Six Egyptian workers kidnapped in Libya have been returned to Egypt, reports the state-run Al-Ahram.
Governor of Marsa Matrouh, Khaled Shoaib, said that they were construction workers who had been detained by human traffickers in the Bani Walid region in Libya.
The traffickers demanded a 30,000 Libyan dinars ($21,817) ransom for each of the men.
According to the foreign affairs minister of Libya’s eastern government, there are around 10,000 Egyptian workers in Libya, many of whom are illegal having been smuggled across the border and therefore are not protected against abuse or trafficking.
Many traffickers have taken advantage of the political vacuum which followed the killing of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2012.
In June, a video circulated on social media of a group of Egyptian labourers in captivity. They were forced to stand on one leg and raise their hands in the air whilst cursing Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and the Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar.
At the time, the UN called on authorities in Tripoli to investigate acts that were potentially in violation of “Libya’s international human rights law obligations on the prohibition of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.”
The Arab League also condemned their detention and mistreatment.
They were later returned home.
In 2015, Daesh beheaded 20 Egyptian Christian construction workers near Sirte. A shrine was later built in the village of Al-Our, Minya Province, where most of them were from.
Along with the UAE and Saudi Arabia, Egypt has been one of the most prominent supporters of Haftar in the region. Since 2014 Egypt has provided significant political, military and logistical support to his Libyan National Army (LNA).
This summer, after Turkey intervened in Libya on behalf of the rival Tripoli government and prevented Haftar’s troops seizing the capital, Egyptian legislators authorised military intervention in Libya.
Egypt’s foreign ministry has reiterated its call for citizens to avoid travel to Libya.