Symposium on “Egypt and Illegal Immigration… Challenges and Mechanisms to Combat It”
On June 12, 2023, ECFA held a symposium entitled “Egypt and Illegal Immigration… Challenges and Mechanisms to combat it,” in which Ambassador Mohamed El-Dorghamy, member of ECFA Board of Directors and Rapporteur of the Permanent Committee for Immigration Affairs and Egyptians Abroad, spoke, and Ambassadors Ezzat Saad, ECFA Director, Ali El-Hefny, Farouk Mabrouk, Magued Refaat, Salah Halima, Youssef Zadeh, Abdel Moneim Omar, and Prof. Dr. Sadiq Abdel-Aal participated in it.
Ambassador El-Dorghamy indicated that Egypt is considered one of the countries with a long-standing experience in the field of combating illegal immigration, and has been, since ancient times, and still is, a major crossing point between the East and the West thanks to its unique and distinct geographical location. Therefore, it is a receiving country, a transit country, and an exporter of immigration, at the same time. It was a destination by many direct and indirect neighboring countries, especially Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Chad, Ethiopia, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and others. On the other hand, the Egyptian presence outside the borders is estimated at 10-12 million Egyptians, whether permanent residents or temporary immigrants, which is of relative importance to Egypt. It represents a strong Egyptian human presence in various locations and jobs in diaspora countries and places of expatriation. This presence also has a financial return that has its weight in the Egyptian balance of payments, as remittances from Egyptians abroad amount to more than USD 30 billion annually. In a related context, there is a significant number of illegal Egyptian immigrants, estimated at about 2-3 million individuals.
At the internal level, there are about 6-8 million immigrants and refugees living in Egypt, and enjoying all basic services, as the refugee or resident enjoys freedom of movement within the Egyptian territory, in light of the state’s adoption of a policy based on not establishing refugee camps. The health insurance system also covers foreigners and refugees who also benefit from various health campaigns, most notably the 100 Million Healthy Lives’ campaign and others. In addition, there are about 75,000 students who benefit from educational services and the right to attend public schools, without distinction between refugees accredited by the United Nations or those residing with no asylum requests.
Egypt has largely managed to curb illegal immigration flows, by controlling land and sea borders, enacting laws that limit illegal immigration operations, and impose penalties on smuggling gangs. The beginning of serious action by countries was the launch of the first national strategy to combat illegal immigration (2016-2026).
Moreover, the issuance of Law No. 82 of 2016, with its executive regulations specifying the steps that must be taken, including the establishment of the National Coordinating Committee for Combating and Preventing Illegal Migration and Trafficking in Persons. In this context, Egypt has signed many cooperation agreements with the European Union and at the bilateral level with the Italian, German, Greek and other governments.
In this context, it must be asserted that security dealing alone is not sufficient to overcome or limit the phenomenon of illegal immigration, and that a serious, integrated approach must be adopted that seeks to address the economic, social and political root causes that led to the growth of this phenomenon which helps to confront it more effectively.