The Arab League (AL) warned against “the increasing waves of migration to the Arab region”, an official said.
“The Arab countries hosted in 2016 more than 26 million Arab migrants compared to 26 million in 2015, without counting those passing through the region for short time until reaching Europe,” said AL Assistant General Secretary of the social issues Bader el-Din Alali on Tuesday
The region is facing unprecedented challenges, Alali said in his speech to the extraordinary meeting of the Arab regional consultation on immigration and asylum, Xinhua news agency reported.
“The situation is deteriorating every year along with the growing burden of the hosting countries,” he said.
The AL diplomat reiterated that the Arab region is “the source of migration and the first among countries hosting migrants”, adding that the Palestinians constitute half of the world refugees.
“Egypt plays a pioneering international rather than regional role in dealing with migrants, refugees and trafficking efficiently at all levels,” Mohamed Ghoneim, Egypt’s assistant Foreign Minister for Refugees and Human Trafficking, said.
Egypt is working with a growing number of countries to settle the crisis, and promoting development as the main motivation for illegal migrations, Ghonem said.
According to the UNHCR, Egypt hosts 187,838 registered refugees, mostly from Sudan, Syria and Libya, with the number of the unregistered believed to be much higher.
Besides masses of refugees in Egypt fleeing from the war-torn Syria and other countries, illegal migration via Egyptian Mediterranean Sea shores also rose over the past few years because of the difficult economic conditions in the financially-struggling Arab country, where unemployment has hit 12.5 per cent according to official reports.