Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi approved on Tuesday a law aimed at curbing illegal immigration and cracking down on human smuggling amid a hike in the number of migrants illegally departing from the country to Europe, state news agency MENA said.
The law was passed by the Egyptian parliament in mid-October, in a move to combat human smuggling along the country's northern Mediterranean coast which has put thousands of migrants on precarious boat journeys to Europe.
In September, a boat carrying up to 450 people capsized off Egypt's north coast. At least 202 bodies were recovered from the sea and 169 people rescued. Around 320 migrants and refugees drowned off the Greek island of Crete in June, with survivors saying their boat departed from Egypt.
The new law requires forming a national committee to combat illegal immigration and human smuggling and setting up a fund to provide financial aid to victims of trafficking.
The legislation punishes those convicted of smuggling potential migrants or acting as brokers with prison sentences and fines. It also imposes prison sentences on those who facilitate migrants' journeys or provide shelter to them.