Egypt calls on EU to intensify efforts to curb 'illegal immigration'

Ahram Online , Thursday 1 Sep 2016

Migrants, most of them from Eritrea, jump into the water from a crowded wooden boat as they are helped by members of an NGO during a rescue operation at the Mediterranean Sea, about 13 miles north of Sabratha, Libya, Monday, Aug. 29, 2016 (AP)

Egypt has called on the European Union to step up efforts to combat "illegal immigration", the foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

During an European Parliament foreign affairs session Tuesday, Cairo expressed alarm that Europe has failed to honour pledges made in a summit on immigration held in Valetta, Malta last year that cash and other aid can curb the flow of migrants, the ministry said in a statement Wednesday

Egypt is now home to 5 million refugees, including 500,000 Syrians who fled war at home. The foreign minister says the refugees enjoys all social services provided to Egyptians, further straining the country’s ailing economy.

Irregular migration via the Egyptian and Libyan coasts has recently spiked, partially due to the banning of the entry of migrants to Europe via the Balkans, ministry aide Hisham Badr said during a speech delivered to the parliament.

Earlier this year, European countries unilaterally moved to shut the Balkan migration route, used by hundreds of thousands who aim to make it to western Europe.

Cairo voiced “deep concern” that controversy in Europe over immigration and asylum measures “entails threats serving anti-foreign and anti-Islam camps and leading to more discrimination and extremism,” Badr said.

The UN refugee agency said in December that more than one million migrants and refugees reached Europe in 2015, including over 970,000 who made the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean.

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