Hungary’s FM lauds Egypt effort to stem migration to Europe

February 23, 2022 GMT
FILE - Migrants and refugees, young men and boys mostly from Egypt, who were among 250 rescued by the Italian Coast Guard, enter the port of Roccella Jonica, Calabria region, southern Italy, Nov. 14, 2021. Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto on Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022, praised Egypt’s efforts to stem the flow of Europe-bound migrants through its Mediterranean Sea shores. Speaking at a news briefing in Cairo, Szijjarto urged the European Union to step up support, including funding, to help the Egyptian government address migration. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, File)
FILE - Migrants and refugees, young men and boys mostly from Egypt, who were among 250 rescued by the Italian Coast Guard, enter the port of Roccella Jonica, Calabria region, southern Italy, Nov. 14, 2021. Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto on Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022, praised Egypt’s efforts to stem the flow of Europe-bound migrants through its Mediterranean Sea shores. Speaking at a news briefing in Cairo, Szijjarto urged the European Union to step up support, including funding, to help the Egyptian government address migration. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, File)

CAIRO (AP) — Hungary’s foreign minister on Wednesday praised Egypt’s efforts to stem the flow of Europe-bound migrants through its Mediterranean Sea shores.

Speaking at a news briefing in Cairo, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto urged the European Union to step up support, including funding, to help the Egyptian government address migration.

“Six years ago, Egypt managed to close its maritime borders, preventing waves of illegal migration from reaching Europe,” he said. “We appreciate this.”

He said EU support would help Egypt beef up its border security with neighboring counties mired for decades in conflict — an apparent reference to Libya and Sudan.

Szijjarto’s comments came following talks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry.

The U.N.’s International Organization for Migration says Egypt hosts more than 6 million migrants, more than half of them from Sudan and South Sudan, where simmering conflicts continue to displace tens of thousands of people annually.

For some migrants, Egypt is a destination and a haven, the closest and easiest country for them to enter. For others, it is a point of transit before attempting the dangerous Mediterranean crossing to Europe.

However, the Egyptian government has in recent years tightened border security and managed to prevent Egypt from becoming a major departure point for Europe-bound migrants.

European Union nations have since 2015 put up concrete and razor-wire walls, installed drone surveillance and cut deals with Turkey and Libya to keep migrants away.

Hungary’s populist Prime Minister Viktor Orban is an outspoken opponent of immigration in Europe. He has said that migration threatens to replace the continent’s Christian culture and that illegal migrants are responsible for bringing diseases like COVID-19 variants into his country.

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi last month criticized Europe’s handling of the migration crisis and its refusal to receive refugees arriving at its borders.