The Guardian published a report that said thousands of Egyptians are risking drowning in the Mediterranean in a new mass exodus fraught with dangers towards Europe.
The report, written by the newspaper’s correspondent in Istanbul, Ruth Michaelson, explained that poverty had trapped thousands in the grip of human smugglers who carry out a deadly trade in the Mediterranean. “Increasing numbers of young Egyptians… chose to flee Egypt’s deepening economic crisis and authoritarian repression,” it said. “They are fleeing a rapidly collapsing economy after the Egyptian pound lost over a third of its value against the dollar this year alone, alongside a spike in inflation that is causing a sharp rise in the cost of living as the state dives deeper into debt. The most recent official statistics on the country’s poverty rate, from at least three years ago, estimated that almost a third of the country lives below the poverty line. The Egyptian president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who swept to power in a military coup in 2013, has spearheaded austerity measures that have driven a deep gulf between state-backed elites and increasing numbers of Egyptian citizens now struggling to survive.” “We see now that more Egyptians are arriving in Europe because of the economic and political situation there,” said Muhammad al-Kashef, a human rights lawyer and migration expert with Watch the Med and the Paris-based migration network Migreurop. “These are ordinary people who had stayed out of hope, ones not part of any political movement, who believed
Sisi’s promises through the years until the currency exceeded 20 Egyptian pounds – when he first came to power, it was 6.5 to the dollar.” “The resurrection of formerly thriving smuggling routes has also been attributed to the release of high-profile members of smuggling networks trapped and imprisoned by the Egyptian state at least five years ago, following a string of boat disasters in 2015 and 2016 that left hundreds dead off Egypt’s northern coast.
Experts say that major smugglers have now served their five-year prison sentence and returned to the only profession open to them, mainly due to the Egyptian military’s takeover of the fishing industry, depriving many boat owners of legal forms of work.”