26 Egyptians missing in Libya; relatives meet with FM Spox
Libya Dawn fighters fire an artillery cannon at IS militants near Sirte - REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

CAIRO: Families of 26 Egyptians missing in Libya met with the Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Badr Abdel Atty demanding authorities to find their relatives’ whereabouts, according to a Saturday statement by the ministry.

The missing Egyptians headed to Libya in August 2014 in an attempt to illegally enter Italy, added the statement. The families said they lost contact with their relatives in September 2014.

Abdel Atty told the families that “the ministry does not relent in coordination with relevant bodies to reveal the circumstances of [their relatives’] disappearance.”

Egypt maintains diplomatic relations with the Tobruk-based Libyan government, which only controls limited areas in eastern Libya; information about abductees or Egyptians in other areas is based on regional tribal leaders.

The oil-rich country has witnessed a security vacuum due to the current conflict between Libyan Islamist rivals and military forces, as well as the Islamic State group claiming the seizure of swaths of the country.

Last month, the Egyptian government started operating flights to carry hundreds of Egyptian nationals in Libya back to Egypt after the release of a video showing 20 Egyptian Copts beheaded by the Islamic State (IS) group’s branch in Sirte City.

Following the video, Egypt in cooperation with the Tobruk government launched airstrikes on IS hotbeds in Derna, and killed at least 50 suspects.

In February, the government also waived fees for Egyptians coming from Libya via the Sallum border crossing for three months.

Thirteen Egyptians were deported from Italy Friday after illegally arriving at its shores via fishing boat. Another 24 were reportedly deported over the same circumstances in Jan.

Egypt and Italy have been coordinating to curb illegal immigration, as Egypt’s north shore is also a destination for asylum-seekers from Syria, Palestine, and some African countries.

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