Number of Egyptian Unaccompanied Minors Arriving in Italy Soars in April
The number of Egyptian Unaccompanied Migrant Children (UMCs) arriving in Italy rose sharply in April 2016, with 638 children arriving in a single month, compared to only 34 arriving in the first three months of the year.
The total number of Egyptian UMCs arriving in Italy during the period January to April in 2015 was 18, compared to a total of 672 during the same period in 2016, representing a 37-fold increase.
“The unprecedented scale of irregular child migration to Europe is very alarming, as more than one in five Egyptian migrants arriving in Europe are now children,” said IOM Egypt Head of Office Amr Taha, adding that Egypt is both a country of origin for UMCs trying to reach Europe, and a country of destination country for foreign unaccompanied or separated children.
While Egyptian irregular migrants are not among the most represented nationalities arriving in Europe, the percentage of young people and UMCs was the highest of any nationality at 66 percent in 2015. This represented an increase from 27 percent in 2012.
According to Taha, Egyptian young people, who are at risk of abuse and exploitation on arrival in Europe, are leaving due to their lack of access to adequate education, training and job opportunities at home. This is further compounded by lack of opportunities for regular migration to Europe, where strict visa requirements push them into paying smugglers.
Taha argues that to curb irregular migration of Egyptian UMCs, more concerted efforts are needed on both sides of the Mediterranean: Egypt needs to enhance its technical education and vocational training systems to meet the needs of the labour market; and Europe needs to provide support.
In Egypt, skills certification in high-demand sectors would provide young Egyptians with increased opportunities in national and international labour markets, and thus an alternative to irregular migration. Europe could also increase quotas for training and education scholarships and programmes — such as ERASMUS — that would also be an alternative to irregular migration.
Today, IOM is working with the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Council of Childhood and Motherhood, and the National Committee for Combating and Preventing Irregular Migration to address the root causes of irregular migration from Egypt.
It is also supporting a national awareness raising campaign on the dangers of irregular migration and advocating for the establishment of a national referral mechanism for UMCs. This would address the specific needs of the children at each stage through: best interest determination; referral to relevant service provider; and addressing immediate, medium and long-term needs.
Egypt also needs more regular labour migration to Europe to contribute to its development. In 2015 it received approximately USD 20 billion in remittances from Egyptians working abroad.