CAIRO: Egypt on Sunday will host heads of state, government officials and representatives from EU and Arab League member countries, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Bahrain’s King Hamad.
Refugees and illegal immigration will top the agenda amid the conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine.
Some 19.5 million people globally have been forced to flee their countries. According to the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), Syrians constitute the largest refugee population in Europe, followed by Eritreans then Afghans.
According to unofficial statistics, Syrians are also the largest refugee population in the Arab world, followed by Yemenis, Libyans and Sudanese.
Hossam El-Khouli, secretary-general of the Egyptian Nation’s Future Party, said: “The EU … should call for the repatriation of refugees if conditions are appropriate.”
He said: “As for the right of asylum … a number of countries have granted asylum to criminals who have committed violent crimes against their own people and homelands.”
Summit participants intend to debate the necessity of combating this kind of migration, especially given its impact on the security and economy of many countries.
Margaret Azer, an Egyptian lawmaker, said a country’s economic conditions are one of the main drivers of illegal immigration.
“The decline of political conditions in several countries is (also) contributing to the rise in numbers of people seeking illegal immigration,” she told Arab News.
“For example, we see that the biggest percentage of immigrants in Europe are from countries like Syria and Libya. The reason could also be religious or sectarian persecution, as is the case in Myanmar.”
Frontex President Fabrice Leggeri said although the number of migrants arriving in Europe dropped to 150,114 in 2018 compared to 204,750 in 2017, the agency continues to support border controls by providing more workers and technology.