Developing awareness programs to tackle migration was the main agenda at a conference held in Cairo on Thursday .
Delegates and officials launched a 10-year project called Preventing and Responding to Illegal Migration in Egypt (PRIME), which will be executed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and will look at developing several employment projects in towns and cities.
Head of the Egypt’s National Co-ordinating Committee on Combating and Preventing Illegal Migration, Naela Gabr announced the launch of the program.
“Today I am happy to announce to meet to announce the program PRIME (Preventing and Responding to Illegal Migration in Egypt) with the support of the United Kingdom through 2 million pounds under the execution of the International Organization Migration (IOM),” said Gabr.
The project will also focus on community outreach activities to “inform of the risks of irregular migration and alternatives”, according to the IOM.
Gabr said that providing livelihood opportunities will help countries deter people from taking part in illegal migration.
“Trying to convince them through telling them that immigration is wrong and it does not follow religious teaching and we should enter the countries legally and telling them that there is death at sea is not enough – what will convince him is that there are substitutes. What will convince him is the success stories which we are trying to create. Any success story needs a development factor. The Egyptian- British program is unique in paying special care for development. Within this framework, the program is aiming at establishing three small projects to the weakened sectors of the governorates that export illegal migrants,” he said.
Egypt passed legislation at the end of last year to crack down on people traffickers linked to a major surge in the numbers of migrants departing from the country’s Mediterranean coast on often disastrous sea journeys to Europe.
A boat carrying about 450 people capsized off Egypt’s coast last September. About 202 bodies were subsequently recovered from the sea and 169 people rescued. Some 320 migrants and refugees drowned off the Greek island of Crete in June, and survivors said their boat had set sail from Egypt.
British Ambassador to Egypt, John Casson, said the program will also focus on creating proper methods for gathering data on migrants.
“The respective parties, to do all the things that Ambassador Naela was talking about. The data gathering, making sure that policies are evidence based and that analysis to underpin the activity is rigourous and to make sure we can do the awareness-raising, we can do the preventing, prosecuting and protecting of people. But this is one brick in the wall if you like of a much bigger British effort in Egypt and around the world to play our role as a global leader and global citizens in tackling this problem which doesn’t just exist in one place but is a global problem. So it is important to deal with the symptoms and the root causes of illegal migration and of people smuggling,” he said.
After Turkey cut a deal with the European Union to stop the flow of migrants from its territory to the continent, increasing numbers sought to cross to Italy from the North African coast this summer, especially from Libya where people traffickers operate with relative impunity.
But as more and more migrant boats now set off from Egypt, an international effort needs to take place to deter migrants from making the perilous sea crossings.