Around 250 Egyptians arrived in Cairo early Monday after being airlifted from the Algerian-Libyan border for the first time since Egyptians have been returning to their homeland, Major General Tarek Fathy, deputy head of the Cairo International Airport, told Ahram Online.
The foreign ministry said last week that the total number of Egyptians who have managed to flee the deteriorating security situation in the last two weeks is over 25,000, most arriving through Egypt’s border with Libya or airlifted from Tunisia.
Egyptians started fleeing Libya in late February after a video showing the beheading of 20 Egyptian Christians and one of African origin was released by Islamic State militants.
“It is the first time that airplanes carrying Egyptians have arrived from Algeria; and we are not sure whether there will be more flights,” said Fathy.
He then explained that Egypt Air will be sending more airplanes to the Algerian border if there is a need.
Egypt launched airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Libya’s eastern city of Derna on Monday last week, hours after the group released the video of the beheadings.
For decades, Libya has been a major destination for Egyptian migrant workers due to its once booming oil economy, geographical proximity and open borders.
Egyptian Minister of Manpower Nahed El-Ashry has said recently no official figures exist on the number of Egyptians working in Libya since large numbers travel illegally. However, she estimated it at between 800,000 and 900,000.