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Egypt is hosting refugees with no outside help: Sisi

Ahram Online , Tuesday 22 Nov 2016
Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa (R) welcomes his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi upon his arrival at the Belem monastery on the beginning of a state visit in Lisbon, on November 21, 2016. (AFP)

Egypt is currently hosting refugees within its borders with no outside help, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said during a speech delivered on Tuesday in Portugal.

According to Egypt’s state-owned MENA news agency, El-Sisi said that there are currently no refugee camps in Egypt, and that refugees from the Middle East and Africa live alongside Egyptians without facing any discrimination.

He added that refugees receive education and healthcare at Egyptian schools and hospitals.

According to the UNHCR website's profile on Egypt, as of August, the country was hosting 187,838 registered refugees, mostly from Sudan, Syria and Libya, with the number of unregistered refugees believed to be much higher.

El-Sisi said that refugees escape their countries looking for hope and peace, stressing the importance of working towards an appropriate degree of peace and stability in their home countries.

The president also said that “we need joint efforts and support from influential countries to counter illegal immigration,” expressing Egypt's readiness to bolster cooperation with European states to secure maritime borders.

This is not the first time for the Egyptian president to discuss the issue of irregular migration during visits to other countries.

El-Sisi said during his September speech at a high-level UN plenary meeting in New York that combating irregular migration should be at the top of world leaders' international priorities, adding that the flow of migrants would be stemmed if doors are opened for legal immigration.

In November, El-Sisi approved a law aimed at curbing irregular migration and cracking down on human trafficking amid a hike in the number of migrants leaving Egypt for Europe.

The law, passed by parliament in October, came following the sinking in September of a migrant boat carrying around 450 people off the coast of off Egypt's Mediterranean coast. The accident left 202 people dead.

While the legislation does not punish the migrants themselves, it imposes jail terms on those convicted of smuggling migrants or acting as brokers or facilitators.

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