We will stay here as long as there is war
Abd el-Mawla reckons his age to be around 85. He has lived his whole life in Libya, but three days ago, two days after the start of the Nato bombing campaign on Libya, Abd left his home in Tobruk with his eleven daughters, coming across the Egyptian border and settling in the coastal town of Marsa Matrouh.
Fighting has intensified in Eastern Libya as Qaddafi troops made huge advances towards Tripoli just under a week ago, forcing many to flee further east to the oil-town of Tobruk. For families like Abd’s, the risk was too great.
But in post-revolution Egypt, Libyans are finding are warm welcome. A local religious group in Marsa Matrouh, led by a sheikh here, is providing humanitarian assistance to families fleeing the violence. The sheikh, also a local landowner, is offering apartments to those coming across, as well as coordinating with the local hospital.
Whilst many Libyans have ties with this Egyptian town, it is not a long-term solution. They want to return to their country. “I don’t have any idea of what I will do” Abd says. “We will stay here as long as there is a war.” And for the time being, that seems to be the foreseeable future.