An additional group of Egyptians in the Libyan-Tunisian border area have been evacuated, Egyptian Minister of Aviation Hossam Kamal said, adding that two flights transporting 500 Egyptians are slated to leave to Egypt on Monday.
This decision came as an exception in light of an end to the emergency airlifts that had previously been afforded to transfer Egyptians from Libya, an official source from the foreign ministry said.
The Egyptian consulate’s staff, which was temporarily located and assigned to work in the border area, withdrew after “successfully” evacuating the Egyptians.
The Egyptian foreign ministry has previously urged Egyptian citizens residing in Libya to avoid being in places close to military action.
Libya expert at the Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, Kamel Abdallah, said that this was not exceptional to Egypt and that several countries have called for the return of their citizens from Libya due to the intense fighting. He added that Libya has entered a “point of no return”.
Egyptians in the Libyan-Tunisian border areas have been evacuated in groups, by first crossing into Tunisia through the Ras Jdeir crossing and going to the Gabès or Djerba airports in Tunisia. Egypt’s national airline, EgyptAir has been returning them back to Egypt through free, daily flights.
Tunisian and Egyptian officials have been directing the evacuations through intense talks while Tunisian authorities provided a specific set of measures to facilitate the process of evacuation, including exemptions from crossing fees.
According to the Libyan Ambassador to Egypt, Mohamed Fayez Jibril, Libya hosted an Egyptian community of 1.6 million people. Libya expert Abdallah said that Egyptians make up the largest immigrant community in Libya, and make up a large percentage of the working force.
“Most of them travel to Libya illegally, are uneducated, come from low-income backgrounds, and work in the industrial and agricultural sectors,” Abdalla said.
He added that the Egyptians who live in bigger Libyan cities such as Tripoli and Benghazi are currently more likely to leave. However, those who live in the outskirts of Libya and work in places such as Tobrok, Jalu, Waddan, and other less lively cities remain and continue to work in Libya.
Those who return to Egypt are likely to find jobs in their home country, Abdallah claimed.
On 13 July, intense fighting between militias led to the closure of the Tripoli airport, as well as the evacuation of the United Nations staff from Libya.
On 14 July, Libya’s neighbours held a summit in Tunisia centred on solving the turmoil in Libya. They formed security and political committees with the intention of aiding Libya in its crisis.
Egypt is also expected to host a meeting in Cairo with representatives from Libya’s neighbouring countries.
The talks aim to discuss “a number of ideas, recommendations and a set of proposals in solidarity and support for the Libyan people”, according to the Egyptian foreign ministry.
Abdallah called the diplomatic meetings “a failure”, adding that this is a result of Libya’s neighbouring countries having differing views on how to deal with Libya’s internal conflict. He added that some countries even suggested “military interference”.
Waves of violence have become more commonplace since the ouster, and later murder, of former Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi in October 2011.
The violence especially escalated after retired General Khalifa Haftar launched a campaign to combat “terrorism” in Benghazi.