By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli, 31 July 2014.
Heeding multiple warnings from Egypt’s Foreign Ministry to leave Libya, Egyptians are pouring across the . . .[restrict]Tunisian border to board flights back to Egypt. Tunisian’s Foreign Ministry has said that more than 5,000 have fled into Tunisia in the past few days.
Egypt’s Foreign Ministry, for its part, has stated that it is monitoring the situation closely and has doubled its diplomatic staff in Tunisia. Egyptian diplomats are available at the Tunisian border to assist Egyptians who have crossed from Libya into Tunisia in the hope of returning home to Egypt.
From the border crossing buses are being provided to transport Egyptians to the airport in Djerba from where they can catch flights to Egypt. Yesterday the first plane from Cairo arrived at the Djerba to begin the transport operation.
Egyptian Ambassador to Libya Mohammed Abubakr, who is currently operating from Cairo, explained in a press statement that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is continuously following up with the Egyptians at the Libyan-Tunisian border “to provide consular services and facilities for them in coordination with the Tunisian and Libyan authorities.”
Reportedly, Moroccans are also choosing to flee the unrest in Libya and making their way to the same Tunisian border crossing.
On the other side of the country, at the Egyptian border, Egyptians are also attempting to flee the conflicts in Libya. Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram reported that nearly 2,000 Egyptians passed through the Salloum border crossing yesterday alone.
Several hundred Egyptians have been arrested in the past few days as they attempted to cross from Libya into Egypt, with 300 arrested just yesterday. Those arrested did not have the proper documents to return to Egypt. Many had crossed into Libya illegally for work. Some were arrested when they used the services of smugglers to try to get them across through areas outside of the official border station.
Because so many undocumented Egyptians have entered Libya seeking work it is impossible to know just how many are in the country–estimates put the number of Egyptians working in Libya at between 500,000 and a million. Even with so many Egyptians returning to Egypt during this current crisis, there are still reports of people trying to cross illegally into Libya, for work or to try to reach Europe by boat.