EU grants Egypt €100 mln for border management & absorb wave of Sudanese refugees

Amr Kandil , Monday 19 Jun 2023

The European Union will provide a total of €100 million in assistance to Egypt for border management and to absorb the new wave of Sudanese refugees, announced Josep Borrell, the high representative of the EU for foreign affairs and security policy and vice president of the European Commission.

 Sameh Shoukry
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (R) and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell attend a press conference following their meeting in Cairo on June 18, 2023. AFP


Borrell’s announcement came in a joint press conference with Egypt's Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry after the two met in Cairo on Sunday.

Of this €100 million, €20 million will be to help Egypt absorb a new wave of Sudanese refugees, while €80 million will go for border management, search and rescue and anti-smuggling operations.

“I know this is not enough and you are going to pay much more, but at least, let us contribute a little bit in your support,” Borrell said during the press conference.

For his part, Shoukry explained that the meeting focused on the crisis in Sudan as well as regional issues including in Syria and Libya.

The Egyptian foreign minister affirmed the importance of safeguarding legitimate institutions in Sudan and alleviating the impact of the crisis on the Sudanese people.

He noted that Egypt has been receiving large numbers of Sudanese people fleeing the conflict in line with the country’s commitment to welcoming refugees.

Egypt has received more than 200,000 Sudanese who fled the country since the outbreak of armed conflict in Sudan in mid-April.

Irregular migration, refugees

Borrell and Shoukry said in the press conference that they also discussed a number of issues of mutual cooperation between the EU and Egypt, including trade, human rights, energy, refugees, and irregular migration.

The Egyptian foreign minister stressed the need for closer cooperation between the EU and Egypt to provide necessary support to the Egyptian government which hosts millions of refugees.

Shoukry noted that “Egypt has become a country of destination for refugees,” Shoukry noted.

He cautioned the country could become a transit hub for refugees if the situation deteriorates and this would put a lot of pressure on the European Union and its countries.

During the press conference with FM Shoukry, Borrell decried the recent death of tens of migrants after the sinking of their boat off the coast of Greece last week.

 “We have seen last week the horrors of the shipwreck off the Greek coast,” Borrell said, affirming that the irregular migration issue required joint work as it cannot be addressed be one state or a region alone.

“This demonstrates clearly that we need to double down on our efforts to put in place a sustainable, humane, and safe system of migration,” he added.

EU-AL meeting postponed

During the press conference, Shoukry said the EU's decision to postpone its six ministerial meeting with the Arab League (AL), which was previously scheduled for this week, over Syria’s readmission to the bloc last month is “regrettable.”

Syria’s return to the AL came through a unanimous decision made by the Arab states, Shoukry noted.

“Egypt considers the relationship between 27 European countries and 21 Arab countries a deep and complex relationship which benefits both parties,” he added.

An Arab League contact group , comprising Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Lebanon and the Arab League’s secretary-general, has agreed with the Syrian side on a number of points in order to fully restore Syrian-Arab relations, Shoukry said.

The Arab foreign ministers meeting in Amman early in May has also identified key step that must be taken to normalise relations between the Arab countries and Syria, he added.

In a press conference with Arab League’s Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit earlier today, Borrell said the sixth ministerial meeting between the EU and the AL was postponed due to concerns over Syria’s return to the Arab bloc.

“The re-admission of Syria in the Arab League is a sovereign decision, and we respect it fully. But we also see that this was done in a situation when Syrian regime did not make any meaningful efforts towards solving the conflict,” Borrell said during the press conference with Aboul-Gheit.

He added that EU position with regard to the Syrian regime will not change until the regime makes progress in line with United Nations Security Council resolution 2254.

“At this moment there is no serious accountability for the regime. This is not perceived lightly by us. That is why the European Union and Arab League agreed to postpone our ministerial meeting at the request of the European Union,” Borrell stressed.

However, Borrell affirmed the EU’s keenness to maintain dialogue with the Arab League and its Syria contact group.

In May, at the 32nd Arab Summit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, which was attended by Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, Arab leaders welcomed Syria back in the Arab League, ending a 12-year suspension.

The Arab League also formed a ministerial-level contact and follow-up group to pursue a comprehensive solution to the Syrian crisis based on international decisions.

Borrell affirmed the need for joint work to avoid the recurrence of these tragic incidents, calling also for fierce action against human traffickers who put people’s lives in danger.

“We need to do it quickly. We cannot sit by when children are drowning in the Mediterranean Sea, a sea that unites our continents,” Borrell stressed.

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