Palestinian Youths Stuck at Cairo Airport

Several Palestinian youths from the Gaza Strip heading to Saudi Arabia and European countries have been stuck at the Cairo International Airport for a month.

Three young men and two young women were reportedly taken by Egyptian authorities from the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt to the airport where they were prevented from travelling due to expired residency permits for their destination countries.

One of those stranded said they have been unable to return to the Gaza Strip due to ongoing closures of the Rafah border.

The five stranded in the airport called upon the Palestinian ambassador to Cairo, Jamal al-Shubki, and concerned sides to immediately intervene.

They requested the ambassador to take measures that would enable them to move freely into Egypt in order to contact embassies of their destination countries where they say they were headed to renew their residencies.

According to the youth, a delegate from the Palestinian embassy had visited them a week ago and promised to solve their issue but changes have yet to be seen.

Few Palestinians are able to leave the Gaza Strip, which has been under a strict Israeli blockade since 2007.

The Rafah border between the southern Gaza Strip and Egypt is a lifeline for the strip’s 1.8 million residents, but movement through the crossing has stagnated due to restrictions by Egyptian authorities since 2013.

Egypt has clamped down on the border in response to allegations that Hamas is supporting a military insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula, accusations Hamas has denied.

Rights groups argue that Israeli and Egyptian policy have devastated the coastal enclave, where college graduates face a 45 percent unemployment rate and the GDP had decreased by 50 percent since 2007.

Literacy rates and education levels are among the highest in the Middle East, but the Israeli blockade has wiped out both private businesses in the strip and left little opportunity for work.

Recent poll results published by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Research revealed that over half of the population in Gaza would emigrate from the strip if the opportunity arose.

Last summer, more than 100 Gazans were stuck at the Cairo International Airport for more than three weeks after being prevented by Egyptian authorities from traveling to their final destinations due to expired visas.

The stranded passengers told Ma’an at the time that most of the group had escaped from Gaza during a five-day ceasefire in mid-August in order to fly back to their places of residence in Saudi Arabia out of fear for their safety.

(Ma’an – www.maannews.com)

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