The Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce (FEDCOC), representing 4.2 million manufacturers, businessmen and service providers, promised Monday to give employment priority to Egyptian workers returning from Libya.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Manpower decided Monday to count the number of returning Egyptian workers from Libya and requested they fill a form. Manpower Minister Nahed Al-Ashry said the form will include workers’ information and the amount of their losses to facilitate their compensation.
Similar forms were introduced in 2011 when thousands of Egyptian workers in Libya started to return home after the Libyan uprising. The interim government at that time had agreed to exempt the workers from customs fees on their possessions returning from Libya for a period of six months.
Approximately 1.5 million Egyptians, mostly low and semi-skilled workers, were employed in Libya before the current crisis, the International Organisation for Migration said. In 2014, approximately 40,000 Egyptian workers were transported via Libya’s western border to neighbouring Tunisia, fearing for their safety.
The number of returning Egyptian workers was estimated to reach 250,000 workers by the end of 2014.
However, former manpower minister Ahmed El-Boraie estimated the number of Egyptian workers in Libya to be more than that as he said before 2011. Egyptians were allowed to travel to Libya with their Egyptian ID alone, requiring no entry visas.
In 2011, the conflict in Libya brought over 343,000 people to Egypt including 104,000 Egyptians, 163,000 Libyans, and almost 77,000 third country nationals, according to the report.
The Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) stated in an August 2014 report that the flow of Libyan refugees, returning Egyptian migrants, and security turmoil from Egypt’s western neighbour, could hurt the Egyptian economy.
Libya-based Egyptian workers hail from poorer governorates and seek income in Libya to support large and vulnerable families. Losing their sole source of income, the report noted, would dramatically increase poverty and lead to widespread social unrest, inflationary pressure and destabilisation in Egypt.
Egypt’s workforce is currently at 26 million, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).