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Exclusive: Dreams of Egyptian Migrants 'Vanish' in the Desert

Exclusive: Dreams of Egyptian Migrants 'Vanish' in the Desert

Monday, 10 December, 2018 - 09:00
A group of Egyptian migrants arrested on the border with Libya. Asharq Al-Awsat
Cairo - Abdel Fattah Faraj
Al-Sayyed Abdul Radi paid his smugglers 7,000 Egyptian pounds to head off to Libya, but his dream of working there, to make enough money to build a house in his village and have a wife, “vanished” when he along with other migrants were arrested by Egyptian border guards.

Abdul Radi lamented to Asharq Al-Awsat that he failed to think about the dangers of the perilous journey in the desert when he planned to go to Libya in hopes of making huge sums of money in a short period of time.

The young man, who hails from Sohag governorate, said he had worked day and night and had borrowed some cash from relatives to be able to pay his smugglers.

Abdul Radi is among poor Egyptians trying to track through the Libyan desert by foot in search of jobs they cannot secure at home.

Unlike Tunisians, Moroccans and Algerians, who risk their lives in the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe, people from impoverished Egyptian governorates seek to find work of any kind in Libya.

Egypt’s interior ministry announced last week the arrest of 33 illegal migrants, including two Arab nationals, before their departure to Libya. It said several fishermen accused of smuggling them have also been apprehended.

Furthermore, the ministry said that it has busted hundreds of brokers who take money from migrants in exchange for providing passage to Libya.

But despite strong measures taken by Egyptian border guards to prevent the infiltration of migrants to Libya, some have succeeded in reaching the strife-torn country.

Authorities in Cairo have since February 2015 banned laborers from traveling to Libya after ISIS terrorist group beheaded 20 Egyptian Copts.

Al-Sayyed Rajab, a man from Dakahlia governorate, told Asharq Al-Awsat that despite many of his village residents perishing on their way to Libya last year, many others were able to reach the country.

He said some immigrants are paying up to 10,000 Egyptian pounds to brokers, who are shrewd enough to convince them to head to Libya.

Illegal migration from Egypt to Libya appeared after the January 25, 2011 Intifada. Up to 76,000 Egyptians, among them 30,000 who had entered the country illegally, returned to Egypt in 2015, according to official data.

But the Egyptian authorities haven’t issued any data on illegal migration to Libya in the past three years.

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