Tripoli, 16 May
Forty-four Egyptians found working illegally in Benghazi were yesterday sent back to Egypt after being detained for six days.
Some . . .[restrict]of those deported were said to have work permits for other locations in Libya but had chosen to take jobs in the Benghazi area. Others had no permits whatsoever.
Before the revolution there were more than 300,000 Egyptians working here, mostly as labourers. The majority fled the fighting and went home. The Egyptian government is anxious that its citizens should once more be welcomed back, not least for the money they remitted home.
However Libyan Foreign Minister Ashour Bin Khayal warned last week that the country is simply not yet ready to cope with the numbers of Egyptians who wish to take up jobs in Libya. This, he added, would first require proper registration and organisation.
Perhaps because of the delay in their return, an unknown number of Egyptians is being smuggled or making their own way across the frontier into Libya, in search of work. An Egyptian and Sudanese job-seeker were killed last Sunday when the vehicle in which they were being smuggled over the border, struck a mine.
A Libya delegation headed by NTC member Mustafa Houni is in Cairo today to talk about securing the Libyan-Egyptian border. Not only it easily crossed by Egyptian job-hunters but there is also a flow of smuggled goods from Libya into Egypt. Of greatest concern to the authorities in Cairo is the quantity and range of weaponry being spirited out of Libya, much having been plundered from Qaddafi’s old arsenals.