Livin’ on the Edge: Irregular Migration in Egypt

Source: Middle East Institute
Author(s): Jan Claudius Völkel

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Since the mid-2000s, Egypt has developed into a main transit country for irregular migrants, either to Libya or to Israel. Now, as the traditional paths have largely been closed, many migrants and refugees are blocked in Cairo and along Egypt’s Mediterranean coast. Boarding a boat towards Europe is for many the only option to escape negligence, detention and abuse.


At first glance, emigration from Egypt is not a big issue. From among the 853,650 persons that arrived by sea to Greece in 2015, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Missing Migrants Project counted 475,902 originating from Syria and 205,858 from Afghanistan, followed by 86,989 from Iraq, 23,260 from Pakistan, and 22,276 from Iran.[1]Hence, most of them did not transit through Egypt on their way to Europe; only Syrians partly did. In Italy, meanwhile, where a total of 153,842 migrants reached Europe’s shores in 2015, the dominant groups came from Eritrea (39,162), Nigeria (22,237), Somalia (12,433) and Sudan (8,932).[2] Many of them traveled through Egypt….

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