Egypt hosts 9 million migrants and host community members from 133 countries: IOM

Ahram Online , Sunday 7 Aug 2022

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has estimated the number of migrants and host community members in Egypt at 9,115,929 million from 133 countries, according to a statement released on Sunday.

File Photo: Migrants. AFP


The number of migrants and host community members in Egypt is equal to 8.7 percent of the country's total population, the IOM added.

It noted that the most numerous nationalities in Egypt are Sudanese (four million), Syrians (1.5 million), Yemenis (one million) and Libyans (one million), with these four nationalities constituting 80 percent of the international migrants currently residing in the country.

"There has been a noticeable increase in the number of migrants since 2019, due to the long-standing instability in Egypt's neighbouring countries, which has driven thousands of Sudanese, South Sudanese, Syrians, Ethiopians, Iraqis and Yemenis to seek refuge in Egypt," the statement pointed out.

The IOM considers a migrant to be “any person who is moving or has moved across an international border or within a state away from his/her habitual place of residence, regardless of the person’s legal status; whether the movement is voluntary or involuntary; what the causes for the movement are; or what the length of the stay is."

While offering assurances that Egypt is not a transit point for illegal migrants to Europe, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has repeatedly asserted that the country does not have refugee camps, describing refugees hosted in Egypt as “guests in the country.”

The refugees in Egypt live within society, and have access to education, medical treatment and work, El-Sisi has pointed out.

The IOM said the Egyptian government’s positive attitude towards migrants and refugees may be seen as a pull factor for the recent migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.

"Egypt has been generous in including migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers in the education and national health systems, [putting them] on equal footing with Egyptians in many instances despite the challenges these two sectors are facing and the high economic costs," it added.

The inclusion of migrants’ in the national COVID-19 vaccination plan is a clear recent example of Egypt's approach to treating migrants as equal to Egyptian citizens, stressed the IOM.

The IOM's analysis on migrants in Egypt showed that the average age is 35 years old with a balanced percentage of males (50.4 percent) and females (49.6 percent).

Furthermore, the majority of them (56 percent) reside in five governorates –namely Cairo, Giza, Alexandria, Damietta and Daqahliya. Most of the remainder live in Assiut, Aswan, Gharbiya, Ismailia, Luxor, Matrouh, Menoufiya, Minya, Port Said, Qaliouyiba, Qena, and Red Sea.

Small numbers of migrants live in the Sinai peninsula (specifically Dahab), Sharqyia, Sohag and Suez, the statement added.

Additionally, the data collected from embassies and IOM studies revealed that more than one third of the population (37 percent) are working in stable jobs, which indicates that the migrants in Egypt are positively contributing to the labour market and the Egypt’s economic growth.

Syrians migrants, who constitute 17 percent of international migrants in Egypt, are one of the top contributors to the labour market and the Egyptian economy.

The IOM estimated that the amount of funds invested by 30,000 registered Syrian investors in Egypt is approximately $1 billion, saying that this reflects the importance of enhancing the integration of migrants to positively impact their host society.

The analysis of the duration of stay of migrants in Egypt showed 60 percent living in Egypt for more than 10 years, with six percent living in the country for 15 years or more (second generations included).

IOM Egypt started its assessment in October 2021 and concluded it in June 2022.

IOM said it has used multiple research methods to get the most accurate number and profile of migrants in Egypt, including conducting consultations with diplomatic representations of more than 100 countries present in Egypt.

It also included data collected via the daily interaction with migrants, as well as academic reviews and studies.

IOM policies and programmes consider human mobility as a source of prosperity and sustainable development for countries of origin and hosting communities, the statement noted.

Combating irregular migration

Egypt has stepped up its efforts since 2016 to deal with irregular migration, setting a legislative framework to combat the smuggling of migrants.

In 2016, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi launched the country’s first national strategy to combat irregular migration, and Law 82 of 2016 set out penalties criminalising all forms of migrant smuggling, in addition to combating the activities of those involved in such acts.

The law punishes whoever commits, attempts, or is involved in the crime of smuggling migrants with strict imprisonment and a fine ranging from EGP 200,000 to EGP 500,000.

In 2022, the country toughened the law, forcing those who commit the crime of smuggling or aiding in the smuggling of migrants to pay a fine equal to the value of the amount they profited from the operation.

Additionally, those who witnessed irregular migration crimes and chose not to report them to authorities will be sentenced to one year in prison and forced to pay EGP 50,000-200,000 in fines.

Furthermore, public servants who fail in their assigned responsibilities to fight irregular migration will be sentenced to between three to five years in prison.

In 2019, Egypt launched its ‘Lifeboats Initiative’ in order to provide job opportunities in villages seeing significant levels of irregular migration, with EGP 250 million allocated to support and implement it in 70 villages across the country.

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