Thousands of Egyptians have fled Iraq since the Persian Gulf war broke out, and they tell of a nation wrought with confusion, forcing people to enlist in the military and swiping savings and passports, published reports said Sunday.
More than 8,000 Egyptians have escaped Iraq since allied bombing attacks began on Baghdad Jan. 17, and the Egyptian dailies Al Ahram, Al Akhbar and Al Gomhuria told the stories of a few of them."The Iraqis have become hysterical about the war," said Alaa Eddin Abdu, an Egyptian contractor who worked in Baghdad. "They are in complete shock because life in Baghdad has completely stopped."
Hussam Elwi, a schoolboy, arrived at the Egyptian port of Nuweibaa Saturday.
"My brother and I were dismissed from school when we refused to join the army," he said. "Then, they tried to kill our mother in what would look like a car accident. Thank God they failed."
Egypt, a staunch supporter of the U.S.-led force fighting Iraq, has deployed more than 35,000 troops to the gulf.
Amal Fuad Mohammed, an Egyptian nurse, lived in Iraq but fled because she feared for her life. She said Iraqi authorities, trying to prevent her from leaving, declined to pay her salary and refused to return her life savings.
"I could not stay there," she said. "I saw how the American Stealth bombers were deceiving the Iraqi military every time. They wouldn't know American planes were above them until they began bombing again."
Some Egyptians who left told journalists they reached the Jordanian frontier, only to find Iraqi authorities demanding their passports and valuable belongings.
And the Jordanian authorities weren't much nicer, the Egyptian evacuees said.
They said they were forced to pay about $60 for transportation from Roaysheed, near Jordan's border with Iraq, to reach the return ferries at the Jordanian port of Aqaba.
The "fare" posed a problem for Egyptians stripped of their savings and traveling money by Iraqi customs officials.
Since Thursday, Jordanian authorities have allowed only one ferry to operate between Aqaba and Nuweibaa, mothballing the other available ferry.