EU to Cooperate with Egypt to Limit Illegal Migration from Libya
The European Union, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the French CIVIPOL agreed on a package of measures to enhance cooperation between the EU and Egypt to address illegal migration.
The EU signed an agreement with Egypt on Sunday for the first phase of an 80-million-euro border management program, a statement from the EU delegation in Cairo said, at a time when Egyptian migration to Europe has been rising.
The project aims to help Egypt's coast and border guards reduce irregular migration and human trafficking along its border, and provides for the procurement of surveillance equipment, such as search and rescue vessels, thermal cameras, and satellite positioning systems, according to an EU Commission document published this month.
Since late 2016, irregular migration to Europe from the Egypt's northern coast has slowed sharply.
However, migration of Egyptians across Egypt's long desert border with Libya and from Libya's Mediterranean coast to Europe has been on the rise, diplomats told Reuters.
From Jan. 1 to Oct. 28 2022, 16,413 migrants arriving by boat in Italy declared themselves to be Egyptian, making them the second largest group behind Tunisians, according to data published by Italy's interior ministry.
Egypt is likely to experience “intensified flows” of migrants in the medium to long term due to regional instability, climate change, demographic shifts and lack of economic opportunities, according to the EU Commission document published by Reuters.
The agreement for the first 23-million-euro phase of the project was signed during a visit to Cairo by the EU's commissioner for neighborhood and enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi.
It will be implemented by the IOM and CIVIPOL, a French interior ministry agency, and is expected to include the provision of four search and rescue vessels, Laurent de Boeck, head of IOM's Egypt office, said.
The document says that to date, Egypt has addressed irregular migration “predominantly from a security perspective, sometimes at the expense of other dimensions of migration management, including the rights-based protection migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.”
Cairo has always stressed its commitment to provide full protection to asylum seekers and refugees without compromising their freedoms.
The program will seek to develop the capacity of the Egyptian ministry of defense and other government and civil society stakeholders to apply “rights-based, protection oriented and gender sensitive approaches” in their border management, it said.