Portugal has offered to host 400 refugees of various nationalities that are currently living in Egypt, according to Daily News Egypt.
Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed the news on Friday; with spokesman Ahmed Abu Zaid stating that the cooperation was the result of the dialogue between Egypt and the EU on migration, and the efforts made by both parties to resettle refugees who are currently in the north African state.
A meeting in Cairo between Egypt and the EU at the end of last year resulted in the creation of a framework on migrant cooperation, which included the recommendation that certain European countries resettle a number of refugees.
Portugal joins the UK, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands as countries that have resettled hundreds of displaced people as part of their cooperation with the programme.
As of May, there are a total of 227,077 refugees and asylum seekers of 58 different nationalities currently registered with the UNHCR Egypt. Unofficial estimates however indicate that the actual number exceeds 300,000.
Egypt has repeatedly called on the international community to recognise the need for unified action on refugees. Last week Abu Zaid took to Twitter to mark World Refugee Day and called for world leaders to “share the collective responsibilities of hosting refugees”.
Egypt has particularly struggled with the refugee burden in light of its own economic problems. The government is currently implementing numerous austerity measures as part of the reform programmes stipulated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Whilst the IMF praised the Egyptian government’s efforts last year, earlier this month it emphasised that the country must deepen reforms and cut back state funding to achieve higher growth.
Refugees have also faced added measures, after the government announced that it would impose a monthly tax on Syrian refugees from this summer, which will be increased annually. The government argued that the increase of foreigners in the country has resulted in significant costs to the government, and that the tax would help reduce the budget deficit.