Egyptian coast guard personnel, rescue workers and family members look to identify a body that was brought ashore from a Europe-bound boat that capsized off Egypt’s Mediterranean coast, in Rosetta, Egypt, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016. (Photo: AP)
Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi called on Saturday for the prosecution of "wrongdoers" behind the capsizing of a migrant boat on Wednesday which killed at least 165 people, according to a statement.
“[Those at fault] violated Egyptian and international law and used illegal methods to transport this number of Egyptian citizens and foreigners, taking advantage of the people's lack of awareness in light of regional and international circumstances that makes Egypt becomes a crossing point for illegal immigration at such a stage," the statement quoted El-Sisi as saying.
The official death toll from the accident off the coast from the city of Rosetta on Wednesday had climbed to 165 on Saturday, with 52 families still looking for their missing relatives.
A total of 164 people were rescued from the wreckage, including the four crew members of the boat, 117 Egyptian migrants and 43 foreign migrants.
In a meeting with a security committee that comprises Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, a representative of the interior ministry, and the intelligence chief, El-Sisi called for the forming of a committee to review the situation in terms of controlling land and sea ports to stop the "infiltration" to Egyptian lands.
He mandated the government coordinate with the parliament to finalise procedures related to approving a law that combats "illegal migration."
He also called on the government to organise awareness campaigns on the dangers of illegal migration “especially during the hard conditions facing the region.”
The Egyptian president also asked that procedures for the marketing of an initiative that involves SMEs for youth be intensified, “especially in geographical areas where illegal migration was spreading."
The orders come only a few days after the president said that Egypt was currently working on finalising legalisation to combat illegal migration from the country, during his speech at a high level UN plenary meeting in New York addressing the migration and refugee crises.
El-Sisi explained that Egypt will combat "illegal immigration" through updating its existing anti-human trafficking legislation.
Egypt already outlaws all forms of human trafficking with its 2010 anti-trafficking law (Law No. 64), which stipulates punishments from 3 to 15 years imprisonment along with monetary fines.
Egypt’s prosecution ordered the detention of the four crew members for 15 more days pending investigation over charges of human trafficking, wrongful death, wrongful injury and using a fishing boat for another purpose.
In recent years, thousands of refugees and migrants have attempted to cross the Mediterranean in search of better jobs and opportunities.
The Egyptian Mediterranean coastline has been one of the main departure points for migrant boats.
Egyptian security forces have halted many irregular migration attempts in recent months.