Egypt rejects the notion of establishing refugee camps in the country out of humanitarian and legal considerations, Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry told EU Commissioner for Home and Migration Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos during a meeting in Cairo on Saturday.
Shoukry said that Egypt’s policy against having refugee camps aims to integrate refugees with the native community, despite the lack of international support Egypt receives in this regard, according to a statement by Egypt’s foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid.
The meeting was held to launch the first round of a high-level Egyptian-European dialogue to exchange viewpoints and experience on handling the influx migrants across the Mediterranean into Europe.
The talks come a few days ahead of International Migrants Day.
Shoukry said that Egypt believes the root of the problem lies in poverty, unemployment, the lack of legitimate migration channels, as well as instability in the region.
He added that Egypt has been successful in dealing with the problem, pointing to a sharp decline of Egyptian migrants crossing the Mediterranean.
Shoukry attributed the decline to Egyptian efforts in preventing vessels from departing the country for Europe since September 2016, shortly after an Egyptian migrant boat sank and killed over 200 people.
"Egypt is also working to boost development and investment plans to address the root of the crisis," he added.
Avramopoulos affirmed the EU’s commitment to cooperating with Egypt in addressing the migration issue through a comprehensive approach, adding that the EU will be providing Egypt with $60 million to help in efforts to tackle the problem.
Avramopoulos also expressed the EU’s appreciation for Egypt’s efforts in limiting the influx of migrants from the country, and suggested that future talks discuss the connection between irregular migration and terrorism.
The meeting also involved discussion about ongoing arrangements for talks between Egypt, Germany and Italy over migration, and the chances of expanding such cooperation with other European countries.
Egypt is actively participating in international forums to develop frameworks on dealing with and protecting immigrants and refugees, with the country passing legislation in November 2016 to combat irregular migration.
In 2016, Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said that Egypt hosts five million refugees and immigrants despite facing its own economic challenges.