UNHCR: Egyptian workers returning from Libya pose economic challenge

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres expressed concern last week about how the refugee crisis in Libya will affect the Egyptian economy.

Thousands of Egyptian workers are returning from Libya and large numbers of African refugees are arriving as NATO allies use military force to impose a no-fly zone on the country.

Guterres told Al-Masry Al-Youm that some 300,000 Egyptian workers have returned so far. These workers previously supported the economy through remittances, but they will now have to work in Egypt despite difficult economic conditions following the 25 January revolution, he said.

Guterres said the increased numbers of African refugees could also pose a challenge, pointing out Egypt currently hosts about 40,000. He said the UN is currently working on increasing their resettlement prospects through its burden-sharing program with Egypt.

He called for patience on behalf of the refugees, saying the process takes months because of security measures and housing procedures.

Guterres said that nearly 25,000 Libyans were welcomed at the Egyptian-Libyan border, but the majority did not request asylum. They instead came with their cars and savings to stay with relatives in Egypt, hoping to return once the situation improves.

He said there are thousands of African workers in Libya who fled toward Egypt and want to return to their countries, as well as 301 Africans who are seeking asylum because they are unable to return to their native countries, which include Somalia and Eritrea.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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