The Egyptian foreign ministry is in “heavy contact” with the concerned Libyan authorities to resolve the issue of the road blockage in Benghazi, Libya, which is holding back a number of Egyptian trucks, the ministry said on Friday.
A militia has blocked the international road between Tobruk and Ajdabiya, said Foreign Ministry Spokesman Badr Abdelatty. The blockage is affecting a number of Egyptian drivers; they remain trapped in their trucks.
Abdelatty said the ministry is contacting tribal leaders in Eastern Libya in an effort to swiftly resolve the issue and free the drivers and their trucks.
“The security situation in Libya is extremely difficult and unstable, especially in Benghazi,” Abdelatty said.
On Saturday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy met with his Libyan counterpart to discuss the security situation in Libya. Egypt is hosting a conference on border security. Abdelatty said the conference would mainly focus on devising ways to help Libya keep its borders and consequently its neighbours secure against “terrorists’ weapon smuggling.”
Fahmy reiterated Egypt’s readiness to offer all forms of support to the Libyan government to help it enforce law and general order, he said in a Saturday statement.
The foreign ministry spokesman renewed the ministry’s travel alert to Libya, calling on Egyptian citizens to avoid travelling to the western neighbour by road. Abdelatty also called on Egyptians residing in Libya to “exercise extreme levels of caution during their movement outside their workplaces.”
Tensions between Egypt and its troubled neighbour Libya have been on the rise recently as a string of killings and kidnappings has targeted Egyptian nationals.
In April, 50 Egyptian nationals were detained by armed Libyans for two days on a road between Tobruk and Ajdabiya.
Last October dozens of Egyptian truck drivers were abducted along the same stretch of road. The release of the drivers was secured through cooperation between the Egyptian and Libyan sides, according to the foreign ministry.
On 4 May, an Egyptian national was killed in a shootout between an “armed gang” and a military patrol in north-east Libya on Sunday as 17 Egyptian nationals were deported from Benghazi for forged visas.
Within a period of four days in late March, two Egyptians were shot and killed in Benghazi. Earlier in the month, another Egyptian national was gunned down in the same city.
Egypt has issues and reiterated a travel warning for citizens travelling to Libya. Egyptians are advised not to travel to Libya unless it is absolutely necessary and to travel by airplane not road, only “after obtaining a valid visa issued by the Libyan embassy in Cairo.”
Minister of Foreign Affairs Nabil Fahmy received assurances in March, from then Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan for the safety of Egyptian expatriates in Libya.