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EU, Egypt agree US$8.1b deal to stem migration flow

CAIRO (China Daily/Xinhua) --  The European Union announced a 7.4 billion euro (US$8.1 billion) funding package and an upgraded relationship with Egypt on Sunday as part of a push to stem migrant flows to Europe that has been criticised by rights groups.

Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi (right) shakes hands with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen after signing an agreement in Cairo on Sunday.

The agreement lifts the EU’s relationship with Egypt to a “strategic partnership” and was unveiled during a visit by a delegation of leaders to Cairo. It is designed to boost cooperation in areas including renewable energy, trade and security, while delivering grants, loans and other funding over the next three years to support Egypt’s faltering economy.
The proposed funding includes 5 billion euros in concessional loans and 1.8 billion euros of investments, according to a summary published by the EU. Another 600 million euros would be provided in grants, including 200 million euros for managing migration.
Such deals were “the best way to address migratory flows”, said Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who traveled to Cairo alongside European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and the leaders of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus and Greece.
European governments have long been worried about the risk of instability in Egypt, a country of 106 million people that has been struggling to raise foreign currency and where economic adversity has pushed increasing numbers to migrate.
Inflation is running close to record highs and many Egyptians say they struggle to get by. Over the past month, however, financial pressure has eased as Egypt struck a record deal for Emirati investment, expanded its program with the International Monetary Fund and sharply devalued its currency.
The country borders war-torn Libya and the centers of two current conflicts - the Palestine-Israel conflict in the Gaza Strip and Sudan’s conflict between the regular armed forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.
Speaking alongside Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, von der Leyen said it was critical to rapidly reach a Gaza cease-fire deal. Both warned against an Israeli incursion into Rafah, where much of Gaza’s population has been displaced.
Egypt already hosts about 9 million migrants and refugees, including 4 million Sudanese and 1.5 million Syrians, according to the United Nations International Organisation for Migration.
The EU’s border agency Frontex last year recorded nearly 158,000 migrant arrivals in Europe via the dangerous sea route, up by 50 percent on the previous year.
The trend has sparked rising anti-immigrant rhetoric in Europe and gains for right-wing populist parties in several EU countries.

(Latest Update March 20, 2024)

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