Italian delegation arrives in Cairo for illegal immigration talks
Migrants sit in boats during a rescue operation by Italian navy - REUTERS/Marina Militare (archived)

CAIRO: An Italian delegation arrived in Cairo Sunday for a two-day visit to discuss illegal immigration from North Africa to Europe using the Mediterranean, DPA reported; the subject is particularly topical in the wake of two high profile boat capsizing incidents in as many weeks.

The delegation is scheduled to meet with senior Egyptian security officials to find ways to limit immigration.

Hundreds of Egyptians and other nationalities in search of a better way of life have been arrested or died in attempts to migrate to Italy and other European countries in the past several years.

Italy is one of the top destinations and residences for illegal Egyptian immigrants. It deported a number back to Egypt for illegal immigration earlier this year.

But in January 2014, Italy voted to scrap a law that makes entering the country without proper paperwork a criminal offense. Migrants under the law could be tried and fined up to 5,000 euros ($6,800) before being deported, according to Reuters.

At least two people drowned in July 2014 when a fishing boat carrying 71 illegal immigrants and heading to Italy sank in the Mediterranean near Egypt’s Delta governorate of Kafr el-Sheikh, according to Youm7.

On Sept. 7, 60 Syrians and Egyptians were also arrested in Kafr el-Sheikh, and another 46 people from Syria and Comoros were arrested in Beheira governorate after an attempted illegal immigration to Italy.

Egypt is also a destination country for refugees and asylum seekers from countries like Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan and Palestine.

According to a May release by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), there was a 17.5 percent decline in the number of immigrants to Egypt in 2013.

Frequent detentions of illegal Syrian immigrants attempting to cross from Egypt to Europe have occurred during the last year, especially at the end of 2013. The wide arrests were internationally denounced by human rights organizations.

As of Sept. 1, 2014, the number of refugees in Egypt fleeing the Syrian Civil War reached 139,209, according to statistics available from the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR). The agency reported that the number of Syrian refugees in Egypt is expected to reach 160,000 by the end of 2014.

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