A group of 192 Egyptians returning from Libya arrived in Cairo International Airport late Friday, Mohamed Abdul Rahman, Ministry of Civil Aviation spokesperson confirmed to Daily News Egypt Saturday.
The Egyptian expats travelled through the Tunisian city of Djerba, Abdul Rahman added, but was not able to provide further information. He said that the ministry is awaiting requests arranged by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the need to bring back Egyptians form Tunisia and their numbers.
The Egyptian Embassy in Tunis told Daily News Egypt that it was closed Saturday, but that Egyptians used the border crossing of Ras Ajdir to reach Djerba.
However, a source inside the Egyptian Foreign Ministry operation room said there are several challenges faced in the evacuation of Egyptians from Libya. These include that the Libyan authorities sometimes closes the Ras Ajdir border crossing, and that there are ongoing negotiations between Egyptian officials and the Libyans regarding the issue.
“It happened Friday night after the first group of Egyptians was allowed to cross,” the Foreign Ministry official said.
Egyptian expat workers are trying to escape the turmoil in Libya and direct threats by extremist groups, especially to Copts. This follows a video released last Sunday, showing members of “Islamic State” (IS) in Libya executing 20 Egyptian Copts.
In a press briefing on the Libya situation last Tuesday, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Badr Abdelatty told journalists that the Foreign Ministry was coordinating different informal communication channels in Libya. These were ostensibly to secure the Egyptian expats in Libya, but have been complicated by the absence of an Egyptian embassy in Libya.
“We are also doing our utmost efforts contacting the government in Tobruk, local authorities in other areas outside the control of the government, different tribe leaders and independent Libyan figures,” Abdelatty said. He explained that individuals in Libya could be more helpful for having contacts on the ground, especially in areas such as Misrata or Sirte, which fell out of the control of the government of Tobruk.
Most workers in Libya cannot return via airplanes due to expensive tickets and, according to Abdelatty, many also do not have passports. According to the Foreign Ministry official who spoke to Daily News Egypt Saturday, all expenses are currently being taken care of by the Egyptian state.