Mr. Laurent De Boeck, IOM Egypt's Chief of Mission - Courtesy of IOM
CAIRO – 26 February 2019: “Egypt is considered a country of origin, a country of transit and a country of destination,” explained IOM Egypt’s Chief of Mission, Mr. Laurent De Boeck, in an interview to Egypt Today. Transit because the government of Egypt in 2016 committed to tackle the issue of irregular migration from the North Coast to Europe, De Boeck went on to explain.
“So, irregular migrants come here and they realise that it is difficult for them to continue because of the efforts on the North Coast and that the smugglers are changing the process because of these efforts, and then they turn to us for assistance to return,” he stated.
This, according to the chief of the mission, is due to the strong legal framework that Egypt has put in place, which as led it to become an example and a role model for other countries would want to tackle human trafficking and smuggling.
“The legal framework in Egypt is actually quite positive on both counter trafficking and counter smuggling. On smuggling, it is one of the most unique in the region; it mentions the protection of the victims, which is very positive and tackles the criminal networks, and there is a lot of communication and coordination between services in Egypt, not only to prevent it but also to protect these people. We have seen in 2018, in particular, Egypt taking measures to tackle these criminal networks,” De Boeck explains, adding that the arrests of governmental personnel, who were suspected of disrespecting the law, show the great lengths that the Egyptian government is willing to go to in order to tackle the issue.
“It is not anywhere in the world that the government announces that they have arrested their own officials because they were suspected of smuggling,” De Boeck testifies.
“To me, it reflects the commitment of the government. In the last six months of 2018, you find in newspapers the General Prosecutor arresting smugglers and traffickers, in various forms of trafficking cases and smugglers. Everyday, we receive reports and communications about smugglers and traffickers at the border and of people who are suspected of contributing to this. The commitment [by the government] is quite high and efficient, and it has to do with the presence of laws and coordination and the existence of several relevant institutions. There are 34 institutions contributing to the development of sharing information and applying the laws, and they work a lot on sharing information to tackle the networks.”
This is of special importance to the expert because if a country simply looks at tackling the issue but does not look at identifying and cracking the trafficking and smuggling networks, then they will not be able to tackle said networks or stop these unfortunate incidents from happening. “They [the Egyptian government] are tackling the networks and there is a very advanced level and very high commitment in Egypt,” he added.
De Boeck further explains, “Europe looks very positively on the efforts taken by Egypt and they look at ways that they can support Egypt.”
“It is also important to know that the migration patterns have not changed drastically over the last few years. There has always been movement to Africa and the rest of the world. This was a lot through Egypt before but now it has been cut down. However, if we look at Africa, we see that about 80 percent of movement in Africa is within Africa, except for Northern Africa who look up at Europe due to proximity. We have noticed since the early 2000s that some Africans are going to South Africa, because it is an attractive country, and then to Latin America. They enter through Brazil and then from Brazil to Central America, to North America; several hundreds of thousands a year take this route.”
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