Mon Aug 28, 2017 02:55PM
Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (3rd from L) is seen during a meeting with his German counterpart Sigmer Gabriel (3rd from R) in Berlin, Germany, on August 27, 2017.  (Photo by Egyptian Foreign Ministry)
Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (3rd from L) is seen during a meeting with his German counterpart Sigmer Gabriel (3rd from R) in Berlin, Germany, on August 27, 2017. (Photo by Egyptian Foreign Ministry)

Germany and Egypt have agreed on a plan to reduce the flow of refugees and asylum seekers to Europe, as part of Berlin’s wider push to curb the stream of illegal and unchecked immigration to the European country, the refugees’ ideal destination.

The agreement was reached on Sunday during a meeting of Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry with his German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel in Berlin, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert announced in a statement on Monday.

Seibert added that according to the new accord, Berlin would provide Cairo with more resources to run training programs to assist Egyptian people in finding better jobs, and more funds for them to study in the European country.  

The statement further said that Germany would also help Cairo to improve conditions of facilities designated for Syrian refugees and other displaced people in Egypt, adding that both countries further agreed to work more closely to mount crackdown on human traffickers, who bring desperate refugees into Europe through perilous Mediterranean routes.

“The problem of illegal immigration is an international one, and we must deal with the socio-economic roots of the crisis. The problem must be dealt with while respecting the rights of refugees and migrants in accordance with international law,” the Egyptian foreign ministry quoted Shoukry as saying on Sunday.

Over a million refugees and asylum seekers crossed into Germany in 2015 and most of them stayed in the country. Far-right nationalist sentiments intensified in Germany after a series of attacks involving refugees.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel then began to feel the political costs when her conservative party suffered losses in regional elections. After that, the German chancellor allowed introducing a cap on the number of arrivals and negotiating deporting mechanisms for those refugees whose applications had failed.

Refugees wait to be rescued by the Aquarius rescue ship run by non-governmental organizations (NGO) “SOS Mediterranee” and “Medecins Sans Frontieres” (Doctors Without Borders) in the Mediterranean Sea, 30 nautical miles from the Libyan coast, on August 2, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The flow of refugees into Germany only subsided in March 2016, when Merkel led a European Union agreement with Turkey to send back refugees sailing from Turkish shores to Greece. Estimates say around a million refugees, mainly from Syria and Iraq, arrived in Germany over the last two years.

The majority of refugees now take the more dangerous route from North Africa to Italy through the Mediterranean. In crisis-hit Libya, smugglers operate with relative ease, but many refugees and asylum seekers also sail from Egypt to Italy.

According to figures provided by the International Organization for Migration, some 121,000 refugees and asylum seekers have arrived in Europe by sea this year.

Europe is facing an unprecedented influx of refugees. Many blame major European powers for the unprecedented exodus, saying their policies have led to a surge in terrorism and war in those regions, thus forcing more people to flee their homes.