FILE- Illegal migration - Reuters
CAIRO - 15 December 2019: In the ‘Fostering Mediterranean Regional Cooperation in Addressing Common Challenges’ session at WYF 2019, dignitaries from Mediterranean countries displayed on Sunday their experience with hosting refugees.
Maltese Director-General of Political and EU Affairs Maria Camilleri Calleja said that despite the small size of Malta stretching over 300,000 square kilometers, legal and illegal migrants have been welcomed. She added that 35 percent of school students are foreigners, and that the population of her country increased by around 100,000. Calleja underlined that the infrastructure has been upgraded to cope with development needs.
Lebanese Minister of National Defense Elias Bou Saab said that Lebanon, whose population size is just four million, has been the destination of 500,000 displaced Palestinians, and 1.5 million Syrian refugees. The minister highlighted that his country is facing challenges to guarantee a satisfactory living standard for them. “They compose an economic and security burden...Unfortunately, some of them got engaged in trafficking,” Bou Saad stated. Speaking of the causes of refugee crises, the minister explained, “traditional war no longer exists. Instead, there are organized crimes and cyber crimes.”
Greek Deputy Minister of Education Sophia Zachary said that 2,000 children, who arrived in the country without any guardians, are kept safe in centers. “Turkey does not abide by March 2016 Agreement, and that has caused a surge in the number of migrants to Greece,” Zachary stated. According to the agreement, Turkey must take necessary measures to prevent migrants from embarking for the EU from its lands. In case migrants arrive from Turkey to Greek islands as of 20 March 2016, Turkey must accept them back to its territories.
Chairwoman of the Egyptian National Coordinating Committee for Preventing and Combating Illegal Migration and Human Trafficking (NCCPIMTIP) Ambassador Naela Gabr underlined the figures issued by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex). The statistics indicate that no single ship carrying illegal migrants has embarked from Egypt for three years. “Attempts were made by only 770 individuals in a nation of 100 million people. This is something we should contemplate thoroughly,” Gabr pointed out saying that Egypt has six million foreigners whose status varies between refugees and illegal migrants.
Representative of the International Organization for Migration Othman Belbeisi explained how a proper migration decision must be made. “Migration must be based on an informed and illuminated decision as potential migrants must understand the advantages of migration, which may not be suitable for everybody,” Belbeisi clarified. “Once a migrant feels uncomfortable in the destination country, they must return. Also, laws must be put in place to regulate seasonal work abroad as some youths leave to other countries [illegally] but not for permanent residence,” Belbeisi added.
The opening ceremony of WYF 2019 took place on Saturday evening, while the closing will be Tuesday. The number of participants is 7,000, who were admitted out of 300,000 applicants.
On December 12-13, parallel workshops were held for participants to exchange views on the topics that would later be discussed by panelists on Sunday and Monday. The 16 panel discussions consist of seven sessions on technology, three sessions on the Mediterranean, two sessions on Africa, one session on women, one session on climate change, one session on peace and security, and one session on arts. The closing of WYF 2019 will be Tuesday evening.