- Title: EGYPT: Residents fleeing Libya tell of attacks
- Date: 24th February 2011
- Summary: CAIRO, EGYPT (FEBRUARY 23, 2011) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF CAIRO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT PEOPLE WAITING AT ARRIVAL HALL WOMEN WAITING FOR AIRPLANE TO ARRIVE SCREEN LISTING ARRIVALS
- Embargoed: 11th March 2011 12:00
- Location: Egypt, Egypt
- Country: Egypt
- Topics: International Relations
- Reuters ID: LVA8Z0G12P9LYHMC9UKVGI1TKRZU
- Story Text: Egyptians fleeing Libya say they were attacked by the security forces and forced to leave without most of their belongings.
A new batch of Egyptians fleeing Libya arrived at Cairo airport on Wednesday (February 23). Many had harrowing tales to tell of violence in the Libyan capital.
Libya has been engulfed in bloodshed after strongman Muammar Gaddafi cracked down on pro-democracy protesters, with hundreds killed.
Those who arrived back home into the arms of fraught relatives said that they had been targeted by the authorities and Gaddafi loyalists.
"It's been three days and we haven't had anything to eat or drink except for the meal we had on the airplane. And there's death and beating there. And the police are the ones roughing up the people. The police. They put their foot on you and stick the gun in your face, and they put their foot on your neck and they take take everything from you," said one man, who did not give his name.
Many of those returning to Egypt said they were reluctant to give their names or appear on camera out of fear that the Libyan authorities would attack their friends or relatives still in Libya in retribution.
Another man said that a speech by Gaddafi's son, Seif al-Islam, blaming Tunisia and Egypt and the revolutions there for the violence in Libya had led directly to attacks on Egyptians.
"The son of the President said came out and said in his address that there are Egyptians and Tunisians who are destroying the country, and they are the ones who put the idea in your mind to turn against him (Gaddafi). And anyone who sees an Egyptian thinks of them as an apostate," said Mohamed.
Tens of thousands of Egyptians fleeing Libya crossed the border by land Tuesday and Wednesday, according to the Egyptian foreign ministry, which says up to one and a half million Egyptians live in Libya.
Abdul Nasser Khafagi, who worked for an oil company in Libya, said that the Libyan army had attacked he and his colleagues.
"They slaughter any Egyptian. They run after us and want to slaughter us, I don't know why. And the people pursuing us are the Libyan army. They chase after us so they can kill us. Either they catch you and beat you and you say 'I'm a foreign agent, and I'm alright', and you say this on TV, or they kill you. Three of colleagues were killed in front of my eyes. They took them out of their car in the oil fields where I work," he said.
A number of those returning said they were angry at Egypt's ambassador to Libya, who they accused of abandoning them, and doing nothing to protect them or help them get home.
"There are more than 200,000 Egyptians out in the streets and they are being treated in a way that I can't describe. Someone has to rescue the people that are there. We need to direct anyone responsible to talk to the ambassador, because taking care of these people is the most important thing," said one man.
EgyptAir said it had doubled the number of flights from Libya from two to four every day, and if the foreign ministry directed it, it would increase the frequency further.
Egypt, where about 40 percent of the population lives on two US dollars or less a day, relies heavily on remittances from its nationals working abroad, particularly those working in Arab oil producing countries such as Libya and the Gulf states.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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