Creating new perspectives since 2009

East Libya: Thousands of Egyptians forced to walk home over the border

There are roughly half a million migrants in Libya, including some who come to work in the North African country.  

June 5, 2023 at 1:19 pm

Forces in eastern Libya have expelled thousands of Egyptians they say were found during a raid on people traffickers.

Some 2,200 of the 4,000 migrants found, most of whom were Egyptians, were taken to the Libya-Egypt border and had to walk the two kilometres across.

Syrians, Sudanese, Pakistanis and Bengals were also among those detained.

There are roughly half a million migrants in Libya, including some who come to work in the North African country.

Many people cross into Libya before going on to reach Europe, with a sharp increase using this route this year.

Libya has had no stable government since 2011 when Muammar Gaddafi was killed, and thousands of people from Africa and Asia have attempted to reach Italy from Libya as a stepping stone into Europe.

Rival governments control the eastern and western parts of the country.

In September 2022 hundreds of Egyptians were found by Libyan authorities in a farm warehouse in eastern Libya and deported back to Egypt.

They had paid almost $9,000 for smugglers to get them to Europe.

READ: Huge sandstorm hits Egypt, killing 4 

In August last year, a boat carrying 27 Egyptians sank off the Libyan coast. Four months before that, a boat carrying 28 Egyptians and four Syrians also sank off the coast of Tobruk.

The Libyan coastguard has returned migrants and refugees to Libya unlawfully where they are detained and face serious abuses.

Human rights groups have long held concerns about the treatment of migrants in Libya, who are systematically tortured and forced into sexual slavery.

A UN probe said in March that EU funding was facilitating the commission of these abuses against migrants in Libya including assisting the Libyan coastguard by providing speedboats and training.

The Central Mediterranean route has been labelled the deadliest in the world.

In July 2017 Libyan aid workers found the bodies of 19 Egyptian migrants in Libya’s eastern desert, they are thought to have been smuggled into the country on foot before dying of hunger and the high temperatures.