A Libyan security source said that 4,000 illegal immigrants had been found during raids on human traffickers in the country FILE PHOTO: Irregular migrants from rescued in the Mediterranean Sea, at the international waters of Libya by Ocean Viking ship. © Vincenzo Circosta / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Thousands of Egyptian migrants have been deported back to their home country on foot from eastern Libya through a land border crossing, reports suggest.
A Libyan security source is quoted by Reuters as saying that about 4,000 migrants were discovered during raids on human traffickers following a clash between security forces and smugglers, and that all of them had been deported.
However, an Egyptian security source is said to have clarified that only around 2,200 of the 4,000 migrants found were in Libya illegally and thus expelled. While the majority of the migrants were Egyptians, some were also citizens of other African countries.
The deportees were taken to a location called Emsaed near the border and then walked about 2km into Egypt, the Egyptian source said, as reported by Reuters.
Libya is both a destination and transit country for migrants, due to its job opportunities and geographical location, according to migration agencies. The majority are from Sub-Saharan and Northern Africa, with a smaller number from Asia and the Middle East.
The UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that more than half a million migrants are in Libya, many of whom aim to cross to Europe by boat, while others have found jobs and settled in the oil-rich country.
The number of people making the journey from Libya to Europe has significantly increased this year, as reported by Italy, which is the primary destination for most incoming migrant boats. In March, the IOM estimated that some 300 people had died or gone missing and were presumed dead after attempting to cross via the central Mediterranean route.
Tripoli’s security forces have reportedly destroyed a harbor used by migrant smugglers in a move to stop the illegal crossings.
— The Libya Observer (@Lyobserver) June 1, 2023