Frontex: Egypt Is New Hot Spot For Migrants

Migrants and refugees arrive aboard a Swedish Frontex patrol boat at the port of Mytilene on the Greek island of Lesbos on March 29, 2016

European Union border agency Frontex warns that Egypt may be the new Libya as record numbers of migrants flow from the two North African countries.

Frontex director Fabrice Leggeri is worried that because of the EU-Turkey deal, migrants are now resorting to more dangerous routes in order to get into Europe. “From Libya there are 13 to 14 times more refugees to Italy as migrants from Turkey to Greece” adding: “the central Mediterranean route is very busy as ever,” Spiegel reports.

So far the number of illegal border crossings from North Africa into Italy this year has totalled far more than any other area in the EU, including the border between Greece and Turkey. According to Mr. Leggeri,”If the migration flows from West Africa continue towards Libya, we can expect around 300,000 people to flee West Africa for the Maghreb countries and on to Europe.”

Mr. Leggeri also warned that Libya is not the only country that has become a hub for migrants trying to make the journey to Europe. According to the Frontex chief, Egypt is the “new hotspot” for people smugglers. “The route is growing, ” he said adding that “the crossing is extremely dangerous, the journey often takes longer than ten days.”

While so far there have only been around 1,000 attempts at crossing from Egypt to the southern Italian coast, the trend is on a huge upward turn.

Frontex also noted the origins of the migrants, often coming from western Africa and conflict areas in eastern Africa like Somalia. “In Eritrea there is persecution and a brutal dictatorship. These people are in need of protection. From Senegal, Gambia, Ivory Coast and Niger and leaving also for better economic prospects,” Mr. Leggeri said.

The report matches exactly what Frontex warned earlier this year when they released a report on what they believed to be the future of the migrant crisis which would largely stem from the African nations.

In the report the agency went into great detail of the motivations for many migrants to make the dangerous trek to Europe. For some, they were escaping war-like conditions while others were looking to impress their family and friends by getting into Europe for better economic prospects.

Earlier this month, Frontex pointed to the fact that many of the weaknesses that led to the initial surge of migrants along the Balkan route still existed. The agency said that they fear Europe is not ready for another surge of migrants from Africa or the Middle East, and that without further cooperation with non-EU countries like Macedonia and Serbia the EU could see a repeat of the huge wave of migrants seen last year.