Protecting minors

Reem Leila , Tuesday 9 Jan 2024

Egyptian authorities have banned minors from travelling abroad by themselves, reports Reem Leila

Minors could travel alone only if they submit an approval from their guardian
Minors could travel alone only if they submit an approval from their guardian

 

Egyptians under 18 are now banned from travelling abroad without their guardians, according to a decree issued by the General Administration of Passports, Immigration and Nationality (GAPIN). The decree applies to air, land, and sea routes starting 1 January 2024.

Egypt’s flag carrier EgyptAir said minors could travel alone only if they submit an approval from their guardians to the communications department of GAPIN.

The department would examine visas and assess the reasons for the short-term travel. The department would then check for any juvenile criminal record. If all conditions are met, a permit would be granted.

Minors who travel as part of sports teams are excluded if they have permission issued from the Ministry of Youth and Sports with the official ARE stamp. Those who only have letters from the federation of the sports they play for are still required to obtain prior permission from GAPIN.

Unaccompanied children from two to six years old are not allowed to board a plane unless accompanied by a steward whose duty during the trip would be to watch over the youngster and hand him or her to a relative when they reach their destination, according to Mohamed Abdel-Maqsoud, a member of parliament’s Tourism and Civil Aviation Committee. “The guardian must pay for the steward’s one-way ticket in addition to the ticket of the youngster which would cost as much as an adult’s fare,” Abdel-Maqsoud said.

Abdel-Maqsoud pointed out that identity of the adult relative waiting for the minor in the destination must be reported officially to the GAPIN’s Communication Department before the minor’s departure

Reactions of Egyptians to the decision varied. Some believe it does not consider the interests of residents abroad, while others see it as the right measure to combat illegal migration which has increased recently.

Reem Ali, 33, an Egyptian residing in Belgium, told Al-Ahram Weekly the Egyptian community where she lives is finding the new law difficult to deal with. “Some of them sent their children to Egypt to spend Christmas with their grandparents, and now one of the parents must return to Egypt to obtain security clearance to ensure their children return to Belgium,” Ali said.

Mohamed Ali, who works in London, believes that prohibiting minors from travelling abroad without their parents is one of the best decisions the government has taken because it will limit illegal migration and human trafficking. “I fully support the decision of the Egyptian authorities,” Ali said. “Many minors have gone to Mexico or Italy with the assistance of their parents to work during summer vacation but were smuggled across borders to travel to other countries.”


* A version of this article appears in print in the 11 January, 2024 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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