Jobless and desperate, Egyptians risk all in perilous Libya

Pope Tawadros II, the 118th Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark Cathedral, leads mass prayers for the Egyptians beheaded in Libya, at Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo, February 17, 2015. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

(Reuters) – Facing grim economic prospects at home, desperate young Egyptians are seeking jobs in Libya – a country sliding into lawlessness where armed groups battle for control and dozens of their compatriots have been kidnapped.

Tackling unemployment in Egypt – where half of the rapidly growing population is under 25 – is one of the toughest challenges facing President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

He rules a country that has seen two presidents deposed in the past four years. The 2011 popular uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak was fueled in part by anger over joblessness.

Affording a home and getting married is still difficult under Sisi for many young men unable to make a living.

The political and social unrest since Mubarak was ousted has scared foreign investors and tourists away from Egypt, the world’s most populous Arab nation with 90 million people. This has exacerbated the job crisis, and the unemployment rate has climbed from 8.9 percent to 13 percent in that time…