Egypt, Tunisia work to repatriate Egyptians stranded on border
Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry - YOUM7/Hossam Atef
BY AYA IBRAHIM

CAIRO: Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry headed early Monday for Tunisia, where he met with Prime Minister Mahdi Gomaa and number of senior Tunisian officials for talks on ways to facilitate the return of Egyptians stranded on the Libyan-Tunisian border, in particular at Ras Jdir crossing, Youm7 reported.

During his first visit to Tunisia since the June 30 Revolution, Shoukry met with Tunisian Transport Minister Sheheb Bin Ahmed on the conditions of the Egyptian nationals stuck at the Ras Jdir border crossing between Libya and Tunisia.

Tunisia will spare no effort to provide all possible support to all Egyptians stuck on its border, Ahmed stressed during the visit, Youm7 reported.

Shoukry was informed that the Tunisian government had agreed to transfer the stranded Egyptians through its airports, including Gabes and Zarzis airports. In addition, Egyptians will be exempted from the usual fees for crossing from Libya to Tunisia, added Shoukry.

“An estimated number of 5,000 to 10,000 Egyptian are stranded at Ras Jdir Tunisian-Libyan border crossing after fleeing their homes in Libya after two weeks of clashes between rival Libyan militias,” Shoukry said at a press conference after meeting the Tunisian prime minister.

“We have evacuated around 2,500 so far through Ras Jdir crossing.  We don’t have exact statistics but an estimated 5,000-10,000 Egyptian are still waiting to return home,” Shoukry stated during the conference, according to Sky News Arabic news gate.

Shoukry praised the efforts exerted by Tunisian authorities for the Egyptians stranded on the borders, Ambassador Badr Abdel Atty, state spokesperson of the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said, Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper reported.

Atty added that Shoukry visited Tunisia’s Djerba airport Monday to reassure the Egyptians who arrived from Libya before heading to Cairo, stating that Shoukry has reviewed the facilities provided by the Tunisian authorities to help stranded Egyptians as well as the services provided by the consular crew who worked around the clock over the last 10 days to extract travel documents for those who lost their passports and to provide buses to take them to the Djerba airport in preparation for their return to their homeland.

As a part of its efforts to protect Egyptian nationals, Egypt’s army prepared 5,000 packages of foodstuffs to be distributed among Egyptians who arrive to Ras Jdir after fleeing from Libya.

Egypt’s ambassador in Tunisia held a Monday meeting with senior officials in the Tunisian Foreign Ministry and the acting Libyan Embassy and agreed on the establishment of an air bridge to evacuate Egyptians stuck on the Libyan side of the Ras Jdir border crossing, Youm7 reported.

“The tenth plane left Djerba airport this evening through the air bridge, carrying 268 passengers on their way to Cairo, where they are scheduled to arrive at 4pm local time,” Kamal announced, according to Al-Ahram Arabic gate.

Some Egyptians working in Libya returned home through the Salloum border crossing, while others have fled Libya into neighboring Tunisia in recent days, resulting in clashes with Tunisian police.

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