The EU is set to fund Egypt’s coast guard with 80 million euros in an effort to prevent rising levels of migration across the Mediterranean, according to an internal paper.
The paper alleged that more than 3,500 Egyptians have fled the country so far this year, almost all of them taking the dangerous sea route to Italy.
The number of crossings from Egypt has quadrupled since the same period last year and according to EU figures, Egyptians are now the top nationality for migrants arriving via irregular routes.
Rising hunger, stagnating economic growth and widespread concern over human rights abuses are thought to be among the key factors pushing the rise in migration across the Mediterranean.
“EU/Egypt cooperation on migration is driven by Egypt’s attempts to strengthen its image as a regional leader, gain European support for its counter-terrorism policy and obtain funds for its domestic projects,” said Euromed Rights, in response to the paper’s release.
EU money, African border forces
Millions of euros will be paid out in the next 18 months over two phases, according to the EU observer.
The first €23 million will be granted to the Egyptian border force for “maritime border surveillance equipment”, followed by a further €57 million dependent on needs.
The paper does not specify the scope and range of surveillance equipment, or clarify whether such assistance could be used to perpetrate human rights abuses.
The European Commission has said it “stands ready to support Egypt” in stopping people fleeing the country by boat.
EU member states have already provided extensive funding to the Libyan coast guard, and are keen to expand the scheme across North Africa to prevent future flows of migration to Europe.
The Libyan coast guard have been accused of multiple human rights abuses, and the same is feared of EU funding channelled to their Egyptian counterparts.