Thousands of Egyptians continue to flee Libya through Tunisia

Both scared and happy to escape Libya and be welcomed into Tunisia, Egyptians fleeing the Libyan regime had mixed feelings.

Egyptian, Tunisian, Turkish, and Chinese nationals living in Libya continue to enter Tunisia through the border region of Ra’as Ajadir, south of Tunisia and west of the capital Tripoli. They came from Tripoli and nearby cities, fleeing the threat of death. According to IOM, the majority of those crossing are Tunisian nationals. “More than 6,700 Tunisians have fled across the Ras Adjir border point in three days.”

According to IOM,  “Large numbers of Sub-Saharan irregular migrants in Libya work informally in the service sector or as manual labor. Poorly paid and in irregular work, it is unlikely they have the resources to rent vehicles to get to border areas and reach safety.”

According to Laurence Hart, IOM's chief of mission for Libya, “Of the tens of thousands of Sub-Saharan Africans and South Asians working in Libya, only a handful have managed to reach the border so far. This is probably because they do not have the resources to pay for transport."

More than 2000 Egyptians fled to Tunisia on Thursday night, according to Malek Mayhoub, head of civil defense in Raas Ajadir. Their entry was facilitated without a visa or even passports in some cases.

Egyptian nationals received a warm welcome from Tunisian residents and members of the revolution protection committee at the border area of Naqradan, who gave them food, accommodation, and transportation. In addition, Tunisian postal authorities provided direct free phone service to allow Egyptians to contact their families.

Mufatah Al-Abyad, head of the postal bureau in Ra’as Ajadir, said that “tens of Egyptians entered my office in a state of panic and anger, and great discontent at the performance of the Egyptian Embassy in Tunisia. At this point, I decided to call the Egyptian Embassy and after several attempts and a waiting period, I was able to speak to the general consul. An Egyptian national spoke to him on behalf of the others. The consul promised to come to Ra’as Ajadir.

During the French Minister of Transportation's field visit to Ra’as Ajadir in answer to a question regarding the coordination between Egypt and Tunisia to organize the departure of Egyptian nationals, the minister said that there are coordination efforts with the Egyptian diplomatic mission in Tunisia. Egyptair has sent three planes to Garba Guergues airport and secured the transportation of 600 Egyptian citizens on Thursday. The minister added that in light of the expected increase in number of migrants, especially after the closure of Libya’s eastern side and Al-Salloum entry point, France will supplement Egypt’s air barrier with its own planes.

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