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With Egypt being the most populous Arab country, it makes sense that tens of thousands of Egyptians work in neighboring Libya. The problem facing the new Egyptian government though has been focused on two things, the logistics of getting all those still stuck in Libya back to their country and how to accommodate for all of them once they come back. Egyptian government officials addressed both these issues in recent weeks.
Ambassador Mohammed Abd-Al-Hakim tried to assure people that a full scale operation has been underway to bring back those stranded on the Libya-Tunisia border as well as those still in Tripoli and other major Libyan cities. According to Abd-Al-Hakim, the Egyptian government has already successfully coordinated the return of around 90 thousand Egyptians through air, ground and sea, with 20 thousand people still waiting in Tripoli’s major airport alone. Abd-Al-Hakim also claims that were it not for the Libyan government complicating these efforts, Egypt would have been able to send more from its national airline fleet of Egypt Air planes.
The ambassador denied reports that Egypt Air planes were used to fly foreigners out of Libya when such a large number of Egyptians remain stranded in the country.
The economic significance of these events are sure to be played out in the coming future. The country has already been struggling to create around 100,000 jobs every year for new entrants in the market. Being that remittances from abroad account for about 5% of the national GDP, the problem of the recent influx of Egyptians from Libya will have a compounded economic effect. Added to that is the distress of the economic situation of a country that just a few weeks ago had all internet and phone services blocked from commerce.
Whoever will win the presidential elections set to take place in about six months may very well be the first person to lead that country towards democracy and a new beginning (certainly that has its perks). However with the recent pressure exacerbating an already sluggish economy, it will prove to be a extremely difficult job for whoever that person may be. Lets just hope that the issue of the economy does not sidetrack the necessary work that needs to be done on the political and social fronts as well.