Wednesday

29th Sep 2021

Egypt blames EU-Turkey deal for refugee spike

  • Four hundred people have attempted to leave Egypt on small boats to reach the EU in the past few days (Photo: crystalndavis)

Egypt has blamed the EU-Turkey deal for a spike in migrants and refugees in the country and wants more help from the EU.

Egypt's assistant foreign minister ambassador Hisham Badr said on Tuesday (30 August) his country now hosts some 5 million refugees and migrants.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

He noted around 500,000 are Syrians and that 800 asylum demands are being filed daily.

"You see what has happened as a result of the deal with Turkey. The closing of the Balkan route and the deal in north Africa, the pressure has increased on Egypt," he told MEPs in the European parliament's foreign affairs committee.

He noted Egyptian border authorities had prevented some 5,000 people from leaving in boats in the past few months.

Egypt is the second main staging point after Libya for asylum seekers and migrants leaving on boats to reach the EU.

The Geneva-based International Organisation for Migration (IOM) says over 106,000 people have arrived in Italy from the north African coast since the start of the year.

Some 90 percent left from Libya with the remaining taking off from Egypt. Badr said the vast majority leaving in boats are not Egyptians.

"In the last few days, we've intercepted around 400 trying to travel to Europe," he said.

The money

He noted Egypt spends some $300 million a year on the crisis.

"We will continue of course to do our jobs and bear our responsibility without trying, unlike certain other countries, to bargain with that for other reasons," he said.

But he then suggested the large aid package from the EU to Turkey was unfair while Cairo obtained little help from the EU in comparison.

"We are not getting enough support. I don't want to mention any examples with a country bordering you, which has got 6 billion dollars in help," he said.

The EU in March had agreed to provide some €6 billion in humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees in Turkey over the next few years.

The money is not slated to go directly to the government in Ankara.

But its slow rollout has irked Turkey, which has threatened to scrap the deal if the euros don't start financing projects.

Broader solutions

Egypt, along with Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, and South Sudan, are partner countries of the so-called Khartoum Process launched in November 2014.

Led by France, Germany, Italy, Malta, and the UK, the Khartoum Process aims to crack down on migrant smuggling and human trafficking by opening dialogue among the partner countries.

It is not immediately clear how effective it is. Eritrea and Ethiopia are sworn enemies and South Sudan has since descended into chaos.

Last year in Malta's capital city Valletta, EU leaders and African heads of state had also agreed to tackle the root causes of the migration crisis and step up efforts on legal migration.

Badr complained that little had been done on either front and demanded broad long-term solutions.

"If we have problems as officials getting visas [to EU states], imagine what our students and our people who are doctors or are engineers," he said.

Feature

Syrians find troubled homes in Egypt

Despite EU aid, Syrian families are finding it difficult to integrate into Egyptian society, with reports now emerging that some Syrian girls are subjected to genital mutilation.

Interview

Son of couple jailed in Egypt pleads to EU for help

A man is seeking EU support to release his parents from Egyptian prisons, where both have been detained without charge for over 450 days, the mother in solitary confinement. The pressure comes amid EU plans to increase cooperation with Cairo.

Activists: 'More deaths' expected on Polish-Belarus border

The European Commission has demanded Warsaw "ensure that people at the border are given the necessary care and assistance". But activists say without any help, more stranded people along the Polish-Belarus border will likely die as temperatures plummet.

Netherlands against more rights for rejected asylum-seekers

A leaked Council document provides a partial overview of member state positions on a new EU strategy on voluntary returns and reintegration. The Dutch are concerned any new legal framework on voluntary returns could lead to greater rights.

EU 'stands by Afghans' but wants most kept away

The European Commission wants to help vulnerable Afghans to reach the EU, while seeking to resettle thousands of others. But an internal document also says those not welcomed should be returned to transit or so-called third countries.

News in Brief

  1. Navalny to get EU human-rights prize
  2. Nato patrols Kosovo-Serbia border as tensions soar
  3. EU lorry drivers will not help UK
  4. Dutch PM gets extra security on bike commute to work
  5. Berliners vote to expropriate corporate landlord apartments
  6. Polish minister calls for border state-of-emergency extension
  7. More Polish regions bin anti-gay declarations
  8. Russia bypasses Ukraine to ship EU gas via Turkey

EU seeks Afghan safe passage to Pakistan

The EU wants to create safe passage routes out of Afghanistan towards Pakistan and other central Asian states in order to evacuate Afghan women's rights activists and others with similar profiles.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed

Latest News

  1. Panama to stay on EU tax-haven blacklist
  2. Moldova to EU: Help us go after fugitives
  3. Election means three-party German government likely
  4. Lagarde urges EU to use market power to fix gas price
  5. MEPs 'disappointed' at observer-status at new EU health body
  6. An economist on 'elephant-in-room' at German election
  7. Afghan withdrawal may spark ex-forces terrorism in Europe
  8. Book Club: The Last Bluff

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us