The first phase of the programme will be implemented at a cost of EUR 23 million, the EU said in a statement following the ceremony.
It added that the operational agreement was signed between the EU, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and CIVIPOL, the technical cooperation operator of the French Ministry of Interior.
According to the EU, the programme will support the purchase of search and rescue equipment to the Egyptian Coast Guard and Border Guards and provide specialised training to enhance knowledge and skills on humanitarian border management.
The program's first priority addresses the need to provide protection to forcibly displaced persons, including asylum seekers, refugees, internally displaced persons and other persons in need. It also addresses providing protection to migrants in vulnerable situations and in host communities, notably in North Africa.
The program also aims to strengthen migration and asylum governance and management.
Its third priority is to foster return of migrants, their readmission and their sustainable reintegration.
The second phase of the programme will follow in 2023, the statement added.
Egypt, a strong partner of the EU.
Várhelyi praised the partnership between the European Union and Egypt as “strong", saying “I am honoured to launch the implementation of a new ambitious programme in a spirit of partnership and in support of orderly migration flows on both sides of the Mediterranean.”
French Ambassador to Egypt Marc Baréty said that France is honoured to contribute its expertise to this strategic partnership between the EU and Egypt which aims to save lives at sea and combat human trafficking.
Laurent de Boeck, Chief of Mission of IOM Egypt, said the new agreement would not have been possible without the crucial engagement of the Ministry of Defence in combating criminal networks of smugglers of migrants and human traffickers.
“We welcome this new partnership, as a continuation of four years of fruitful cooperation with the Liaison Agency with International Organizations (LAWIO) of the Ministry of Defence, which allowed promoting and defending the human rights of migrants,” Boeck said.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has estimated the number of migrants and host community members in Egypt until June 2022 at approximately 9.1 million coming from 133 countries.
In 2016, Egypt launched its first national strategy to fight irregular migration, setting a legislative framework to combat the smuggling of migrants,
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.”