Dozens of Christians from Egypt who have traveled to Libya for work to provide for their families are reportedly trying to escape and find a safe passage home. But they are surrounded by Islamic terror threats and facing limited options.
Persecution watchdog group International Christian Concern revealed that it spoke on the phone with a group of such Christians in Libya, who explained the dangers behind their situation.
"We are 16 Christians, living in a housing building in Misrata, Libya. We hope to return home to Egypt, but there isn't any safe way," one of the persecuted Christians said.
As ICC pointed out, for the believers, "to travel home would be to hand themselves to God."
"The two homebound roads available to Mena and his roommates follow a direct line through militant territories. The highway which carried these workers into Libya from Egypt goes through Sirte, where extremists are known to stop buses and check IDs for Christian names," the watchdog said.
"The other way home is through flying out of Tripoli which drives along similar ISIS-held routes."
It was less than two years ago that Islamic State militants beheaded 21 Coptic Christians kidnapped in Libya, and released the video for the world to see. It remains one of the biggest singular incidents of mass executions of believers filmed on camera.
The video, titled "A Message Signed With Blood to the Nation of the Cross," sent shockwaves throughout the Christian world, with Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II officially registering the 21 Copts as martyrs of the church last year.
"These men paid the ultimate price, but gave us a cause to advocate for all those persecuted; they also showed us that there was a level of evil that we must all stand in solidarity against, and a level of courage, faithfulness and defiance that we must all aspire to," said Bishop Amba Angaelos, general bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church, during the one year anniversary of the massacre last February.
Islamic State has vowed to continue killing Christians and all who stand in its way, yet despite these dangers, Christians from Egypt continue traveling to Libya for work. ICC noted that Christians are hated and are left jobless due to marginalization and discrimination back home; they are kicked out of school and forced to compete for even the most basic of jobs.
"Because of this, they're left with no alternative but to face radical Islamic terror in Libya in order to provide food for their children," ICC stated.
Both Libya and Egypt are among the top 21 countries in the world where Christians face the most persecution, according to Open Doors USA's 2017 World Watch List.
In those top 21 countries, 100 percent of Christians experience persecution, Open Doors reported. Christians account for only 13 percent of the total population in those countries.
The Christians who are currently in Libya are not considered missing since their families know where they are and why they are trapped. Yet little is being done to create safe routes so they can avoid another tragedy at the hands of IS and radical terrorists.
"There are more than 30 Coptic workers from our village and other nearby villages who are trapped in Misrata, Libya," one Egyptian Christian resident told ICC. "The Egyptian Foreign Ministry has to intervene and find safe ways to return these men to their homes."
The watchdog group shared the stories of several other relatives who want to hear news about their loved ones in Libya, but are forced to endure "endless waiting."
"This is the state of Libya. This is the state of Egypt. Christian lives seem to have little to no value in these countries. Dozens are missing and trapped and yet no one makes the effort to order a simple airlift, or inquire into the disappearance of Egyptian citizens," ICC lamented.