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398 illegal migrants prevented from entering Egypt in recent weeks: Army

Ahram Online , Wednesday 15 Mar 2017
Egyptian Armed Forces Spokesperson Tamer El-Refai (Photo courtesy of army's Facebook page)
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Egypt's armed forces have said they were able to prevent the illegal migration of 398 people into Egypt through its southern and western borders in the last couple of weeks, its spokesman announced on Wednesday.

In an official statement, army spokesman Tamer El-Refaie relayed the armed forces efforts to "preserve the country on all strategic levels" in the period from 21 February to 13 March.

Those efforts included discovering and destroying smuggling tunnels in North Sinai and confiscating drugs and weapons in several governorates including Ismailia, Suez and others, El-Refai said.

El-Refaie said that during this period, border guards arrested 369 migrants before they crossed into Egypt at Salloum, a main crossing point on the border with Libya.

Twenty-nine others were arrested by forces at the Shalateen-Halayib border area between Egypt and Sudan.

The spokesman did not give details on the nationalities of the "illegal migrants."

In addition to combating terrorism, Egypt has been waging a fight against irregular migration in recent years.

Cairo raised its focus on this issue and introduced an illegal migration law following a September 2016 migrant boat disaster off its Mediterranean coast that killed hundreds.

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has spoken on multiple occasions about Egypt's ongoing efforts to curb illegal immigration from its shores to Europe -- a key concern for European countries facing a growing migrant crisis.

The president has said Egypt currently hosts 5 million immigrants from different nations who live their lives normally, receive the privileges enjoyed by Egyptian citizens and are not confined to refugee camps.

Egypt has repeatedly rejected proposals to create refugee camps on its soil. 

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