Tripoli, 22 January 2013:
The Libyan government has ordered a ban on foreigners using the border crossing at Musaid to enter the . . .[restrict]country. The ban, announced today, Tuesday, does not apply to Egyptians.
The Interior Ministry’s official spokesman, Magdi Al-Arafi, said that foreigners would have to enter the country from Egypt by air.
The border crossing at Musaid has been under pressure over the past year because of constant and highly-organised smuggling not only of drugs and weapons but of people as well. It, and the area to the south, have seen a flow of illegal migrants from Africa and Asia entering the country in the hope of then making it by boat to Europe. Six months ago, border forces went on strike in protest against the intimidation and violence from smugglers.
There is no indication that the authorities are planning the same move at the two Tunisian border crossings. However, they have been closed on numerous occasions, again because of incidents linked to smuggling.
At present, the border crossing at Ras Jedir remains closed in both directions other than to Libyans and Tunisians returning home and to Libyan patients being taken by ambulance to Tunisia. It was briefly reopened after the visit of the Tunisian prime minister on 7 January, following a two-week closure because of anti-Libyan protests on the Tunisian side, but closed again when the protests re-erupted.
The land crossing at Ghadames to Algeria was ordered to be reopened by Prime Minister Ali Zeidan when he hosted the summit there on 12 January with the prime ministers of Algeria and Tunisia. It is now reported to be closed again in an bid to contain smuggler activity. [/restrict]