Egypt and the European Union have signed two agreements worth almost $155 million in a bid to create jobs and tackle illegal migrations, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported yesterday.
The signing was attended by Egyptian Minister of Investment Sahar Nasr and Director-General for EU Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Christian Danielsson.
The first agreement will fund an EU programme for inclusive growth, with a focus on creating job opportunities, through investment in small and medium businesses. The scheme will also attempt to create links between business owners of smaller firms and large corporations to enable the better exchange of funding and ideas. Egypt has made some progress in tackling joblessness, with the unemployment rate expected to drop to 10.9 per cent by the end of this year from 12.2 per cent in 2017.
The second deal, worth some $6.88 million, is targeted at reducing illegal immigration, as well as smuggling and human trafficking, in which Egypt is rapidly becoming a hotspot.
The project involves three stages which will be spread across 11 cities; improving the infrastructure of cities experiencing illegal migration, create several educational programmes in the areas most affected, and to support women’s employment to ease the financial burdens that lead to individuals seeking work abroad.
Aid will also be given to local institutions and civic organisations trying to tackle migration in the north of the country.
Egypt is fast becoming a popular route for migrants from sub-Saharan Africa to cross the Mediterranean and enter Europe. However the EU has placed pressure on North African countries to stem the flow of people leaving the continent, and in July, revealed that European leaders would seek to establish centres in the Middle East and Africa to host deported asylum seekers.
“Our capacities are already utilised today; therefore, it is important that Egypt receives support from Germany and the EU,” Egyptian Parliament Speaker Ali Abdul Aal said at the time.
Egypt already hosts more than 221,675 refugees and asylum seekers, with 3,118 newly registered in 2018 alone according to the UNHCR. Unofficial estimates however indicate that the actual number exceeds 300,000.
The country 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) and has argued that the increase of foreigners in the country has resulted in significant costs to the country.