Libyan authorities have deported 170 Egyptian citizens because they did not hold the correct documentation. A report by the Ministry of Labour says Egyptian workers are coveted by Libyan businesses.
The Egyptian citizens were being held in a prison in the Libyan city of Misrata until Saturday when the Egyptian embassy in Libya organised for their transfer back to Egypt, according to state news agency MENA.
The deportation follows the release of a report received by Minister of Labour Khaled Al-Azhari about Egyptian workers in 2012, which includes details about the situation in Libya.
The report said that before the Libyan revolution there were 1,350,000 Egyptians in Libya, however during the revolution 490,000 workers left, only 100,000 of whom held residency papers.
According to the report it is estimated that there are now approximately 1,260,000 Egyptians living in Libya. It also pointed out that there are plans for a project to bring 500,000 more Egyptian workers. According to the ministry “the report emphasised that Egyptian workers are preferred by business owners and companies in Libya.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs made a plea in December calling for Egyptians not to enter Libya illegally. At that time 61 Egyptian citizens were being held in Libyan prisons because they did not have visas and in some cases no passports.
In July 2012 a tripartite meeting between the Egyptian, Libyan and Tunisian foreign ministers announced the Cairo Declaration, which included plans for talks to establish a zone of free movement between the three countries. This zone is yet to be established; therefore people must hold passports and visas in order to travel.
With unemployment increasing over the last few years, many Egyptians travel to neighbouring countries looking for work and there are often issues with work permits and visas. At the beginning of January an agreement was reached between Egypt and Jordan to allow Egyptians working illegally in Jordan to apply for work permits over a period of 60 days.