Communications with 46 Egyptian workers stopped after attempting illegal immigration to Italy and they are believed to be trapped in Libya.
Their relatives fear a similar destiny as the Egyptian workers who were kidnapped in January then beheaded in February by the militants of the Islamic State (IS) in Libya.
Relatives of 26 of the workers “missing” in Libya met with Foreign Ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty Saturday to discuss ways to find the whereabouts of their relatives.
Abdelatty met with the relatives, who were accompanied by rights lawyer Naguib Gobraiel, as they informed the ministry that communication with their relatives have stopped since September 2014. This occurred after they travelled to Libya trying to illegally migrate to Italy, according to a statement from the ministry.
Gobraiel told Daily News Egypt that the number of Egyptians missing is 46, but relatives of only 26 attended the meeting.
“They travelled on 6 September from Assiut to Alexandria to take a boat heading to Italy,” Joseph, one of the relatives, said.
Joseph’s cousin, Emad Salah, was among the 46 young men from Abnoub town who took the dangerous trip.
“Communications stopped at 1am on 7 September, and the last we know is that they were about to start the boat voyage,” Joseph said.
He added that there were a total of 227 people on board the boat, of which 46 figures came from Abnoub.
“We just want to know the fate of our ‘kids’,” Nageh, another relative of the missing, said.
He added that he and other relatives of the missing reported to local police authorities middlemen who took EGP 20,000 from each person to transport them to Italy, but there was no response.
Narratives on the fate of the people, who have now been missing almost seven months, varied from being held by human traffickers to being held by pro-Islamist authorities in the Libyan town of Tripoli.
Unconfirmed reports suggest that they are being held in a prison in Tripoli, while another suggested they are imprisoned in Italy.
The Italy narrative was dismissed as the Foreign Ministry communicated with the Egyptian embassy in Italy, which denied the rumor.
“We are afraid they are kidnapped, we fear a fate similar to those who were kidnapped before,” Joseph said.
However, Nageh thinks kidnapping should be for ransom or for another reason, but such an occurrence could have been known months ago. “A kidnapper would call for a ransom an hour after kidnapping,” he added.