The European Union is struggling to close the illegal migrants’ routes to Europe, especially with the rising threat of the ISIS militants’ diffusing through the borders to carry on operations in Europe.
In the same context, many nationalities mostly Syrians are escaping to Europe from the hell of war or to search for a better job in modernized countries.
Recently, Egypt has become one of the dangerous spots used by migrants to sneak to European borders. Bigger boats are increasingly setting out from Egypt for sea voyages of up to 10 days toward Italy, as the EU, NATO and Turkish coast guard tighten controls in the Aegean Sea. The coastline near the port city of Alexandria is a preferred jumping off point.
Experts stated that some migrants, many of them Syrian, pay up to $5,000 to travel from Egypt in vessels. Then, the vessels, filled with migrants, meet up south of Italy with smaller boats coming from Libya and bound for the Italian coast so that the passengers can transfer. Illegal immigrants. Experts claimed some Egyptian policemen are involved in the disastrous situation as they are thought to be working with the smugglers.
The Egyptian migrant route “is the business class departure point,” said Reitano, from the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime. She added, “Whereas people pay 1000-1,500 dollars to depart from Libya, you would pay 3-5,000 dollars to depart from Egypt and you would have a totally different class of voyage.” However, few incidents of migrant abuse have been reported from the Egyptian coasts compared to the crossings set off from Libya. The trip from Egypt to Europe takes more than a week where food and water are stored on board and vessels have a proper crew. Reports state that the departures from the Egyptian coasts are not a new one as it has been going on since 2011. But the operations are almost hard to be detected as the smugglers work has been extremely complex with transfers happening at sea.
The illegal immigrants’ problem has been dreadful that the EU is seeking talks with Egyptian authorities to see what can be done. Last month, about 19,000 migrants arrived in Italy due to “a growing number of departures from Egypt,” as was reported by the EU’s border agency, Frontex.
In the same context, Olivier Onidi the deputy director of the European Commission’s migration and home affairs department told EU lawmakers this week that talks with Egypt are needed “to try to better understand why this is happening.”
However, EU talks with Egyptian officials are unlikely to be easy. It comes even as the 28-nation bloc steps up financial assistance to the country under a migration partnership scheme it is developing with several nations, most of them in Africa. Reitano said, “It’s a very discreet, very effective, highly corrupt industry that’s been going out of Egypt the whole time,” said. “It’s really well sewn up. It’s very, very organized.”
In addition, Frontex reported that the smuggling networks have developed recently in Egypt. In the past, they used small fishing boats but switched a few years ago to larger “mother ships” with strings of fishing boats towed behind. The migrants are stowed in the mother ship on leaving Egypt. As they are close to the Italian shore, migrants leave the mother ships and are transported through fishing boats while the mother ship returns to the port.