Egypt's border guards stopped 12,000 from illegally migrating in 2016: Army

Ahram Online , Thursday 12 Jan 2017

A photo of border patrols released by the Egyptian army on Wednesday, January 11, 2017 (Photo: Egyptian army Facebook page)

Egyptian border guard forces prevented more than 12,000 people of various nationalities from illegally entering or leaving the country in 2016, the military said on Wednesday.

A growing number of migrants have in recent years tried to cross to Italy in perilous sea journeys from the African coasts of Libya and Egypt. Crossings are often organised by migrant traffickers in rickety boats that often capsize repeatedly, leading to many deaths.

The army said in a statement listing its achievements last year that "12,192 people of various nationalities have been arrested [in] a total of 434 cases of illegal migration,"

In September, a boat carrying about 450 people capsized in the Mediterranean Sea off Egypt's north coast. Around 202 bodies were recovered from the water and 169 people rescued.

In November, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi approved a new law aimed at curbing illegal immigration and cracking down on human smuggling.

In Wednesday's statement, the army said security forces have destroyed 67 underground tunnels--presumably in Sinai, where it has launched a campaign to eliminate smuggling tunnels between the peninsula and the Palestinian Gaza Strip.

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