Tuesday,24 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1302, (30 June - 13 July 2016)
Tuesday,24 October, 2017
Issue 1302, (30 June - 13 July 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Efforts to free Egyptians bear fruit

Official efforts to release Egyptians detained in Sudan have succeeded while similar efforts in Libya have failed, reports Doaa El-Bey

Al-Ahram Weekly

Negotiations by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry to release Egyptians detained in Sudan came to a successful conclusion this week. However, the same could not be said for detainees in Libya.

Egyptians detained by the Sudanese authorities for allegedly leaking Thanaweya Amma — high school final certificate — exams have been released.

“The Egyptian Embassy in Sudan is coordinating with the freed citizens to arrange for their return to Egypt and their reunion with their families as soon as possible,” said Hesham Al-Nakeeb, the Foreign Ministry’s assistant for consulate affairs and Egyptian expatriates.

The last few weeks saw intensive communication between the Egyptian Embassy in Sudan and the Sudanese Foreign Ministry in an attempt to find a settlement to the issue.

However, the case of eight Egyptian nationals detained in the city of Misrata in Libya has not enjoyed a similar breakthrough. The failure to achieve any similar results in Libya prompted a protest in front of the Foreign Ministry in Cairo on Sunday.

Al-Nakeeb said in a statement issued last week that the ministry is in contact with the authorities in Libya to determine where they are being detained and discuss ways of releasing them.

The relatives of the detainees staged a protest in front of the ministry to demand that officials intervene to secure their release. Recent negotiations with Libyan tribes who are believed to know the whereabouts of the detainees have failed, a fact that increased the concern of the relatives of detainees.

“We have been repeatedly promised by officials in the Foreign Ministry that the detainees will be released soon. But the promises have not been met so far. We are very worried about them,” said Rabie, a cousin of one of the detainees.

Another protester, who preferred to remain anonymous, said officials have asked for more time to collect additional details about the detainees. “But they never got back to us,” he said.

The Egyptians were on their way back home when they were stopped in Misrata some 45 days ago. Seven come from the same village in Samalout, Minya. The eighth is from Fayoum.

Egyptians residing in Libya have been caught up in the country’s internal conflict, which has been gradually spreading over the past few years since the fall of the Libya leader Muammar Gaddafi.

In April, 13 illegal Egyptian immigrants were killed in the Libyan city of Bani Walid. They were killed amid clashes with members of smuggling gangs in Libya. In February, 35 Egyptian migrant labourers and their family members were released from immigration detention centres in Libya after they were detained by authorities of the Tobruk government.

In February 2015, Islamic State (IS) group fighters in Libya abducted and beheaded 20 Egyptian nationals in the city of Sirte, releasing a video of the beheadings afterwards.

In response, Egypt launched air strikes in Libya in the same week of the video’s release. The Egyptian military said in a statement that the strikes targeted training and weapons and ammunition storage sites belonging to IS fighters in the country.

Despite the current situation in Libya, the flow of migrant labours between Egypt and Libya has continued. The number of Egyptian nationals who have migrated to Libya for work ranges between 800,000 and one million. However, that figure is not accurate because there are thousands of workers who travel illegally to Libya.

The Foreign Ministry has repeatedly warned against travelling to Libya. It issued an official travel warning last year, asking Egyptians to refrain from travelling to Libya and advising Egyptians in Libya to take maximum precautions and stay away from regions of conflict.

However, repeated warnings and detentions have not stopped Egyptians from travelling to Libya in search of employment

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