Tuesday,12 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1241, (9-15 April 2015)
Tuesday,12 December, 2017
Issue 1241, (9-15 April 2015)

Ahram Weekly

An arduous journey home

More than 700 Egyptians living in Yemen have been helped to flee the war-torn country and return home, writes Doaa El-Bey

Al-Ahram Weekly

“We suddenly found ourselves in the middle of a war and had to abandon everything and leave immediately. We spent a couple of days waiting at the Yemeni-Saudi border until the Egyptian mission had arranged for us to cross the border. We stayed in Saudi Arabia until our travel documents were ready to travel to Egypt. Thankfully we returned safely after the worries and concerns about our safety,” said an Egyptian nurse until recently living in Yemen.

Suddenly and without warning, Egyptians living in Yemen have found themselves in the middle of a war and because of fears for their safety have had to leave the country. Egypt’s Foreign Ministry has managed to secure the return of 780 Egyptians over the last few days, plucking them out of danger in Yemen.

“The Egyptian missions in Saudi Arabia, Oman and Djibouti and the missions that were dispatched from the consulate in Jeddah to the Saudi-Yemeni border are exerting every effort to facilitate the return of Egyptians from Yemen. The Foreign Ministry is coordinating with several airliners to airlift Egyptians via Sanaa,” Badr Abdel-Ati, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, said on Monday.

Most of the Egyptians left Yemen via Tawal on the Saudi-Yemeni border, where the Egyptian mission arranged for them to stay until their travel documents were ready to travel to Egypt.

Oman has also opened its borders to allow in Egyptians fleeing the war in Yemen, saying that the country was giving attention to the safety of Egyptians in Yemen who had sought refuge in the sultanate.

In its effort to speed up the return of Egyptians from Yemen, Egypt’s mission arranged for the return of 19 Egyptians on Monday on an Indian ship, according to Abdel-Ati. The ship arrived in Djibouti on the same day and the embassy arranged for the Egyptians’ short stay in preparation for their return to Egypt. 

Egyptian residents in Yemen were evacuated from the country when the Arab coalition of which Egypt is a part launched airstrikes against the Houthi rebels fighting the Yemeni regime and its President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Leaving became increasingly difficult last week as most flights to and from Yemen were suspended and the majority of airports were closed amid the air strikes against the Houthis. Last week, the Foreign Ministry formed a crisis group to follow up developments regarding Egyptian expatriates in Yemen.

“The group works 24/7 and responds to queries from the expatriates and their families, while at the same time giving them advice and arranging for their evacuation,” Abdel-Ati said. It also works in collaboration with delegations from the missions of the Saudi and Omani embassies sent to the borders with Oman and Saudi Arabia to facilitate the expatriates’ exit.

By arrangement with officials in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman and Djibouti, the ministry has implemented an exit plan for all Egyptians who wish to leave Yemen. Last Friday, four groups were evacuated, two of them going to Oman, one to Jeddah, and the fourth travelling to Egypt by air.

Some Egyptians reached Djibouti, from where they were returned to Egypt.

Earlier this year, Egypt managed to arrange for the exit of thousands of Egyptians from Libya by air, via Tunisia, or by land via the Egyptian-Libyan border. The move came after 21 Egyptians were beheaded by the Islamic State (IS) group in Libya, which was recorded and shown on social media.

The Foreign Ministry in Cairo has reiterated a warning to Egyptians in Libya to use extreme caution and keep away from places of danger while also banning new travel to Libya. It has also issued a similar warning to Egyptians planning to enter Yemen because of the dangerous situation there.

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