EU announces major aid package for Egypt – 24 Global News | Latest International Breaking News Today

EU announces major aid package for Egypt – Latest International Breaking News Today

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The European Union announced a 7.4-billion-euro aid package for Egypt, or about $8 billion, amid concerns of migrants flooding the country from Israel and making the voyage across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Egyptian Abdel Fattah el-sissi signed the deal on Sunday in Cairo, though the agreement was criticized because of Egypt’s human rights record, the Associated Press reported.

“Your visit today represented a very important milestone in the relations between Egypt and the European Union,” El-sissi told visiting European leaders, including those from Belgium, Italy, Austria, Cyprus and Greece, who attended the signing.

El-sissi added that the deal helps achieve a “paradigm shift in our partnership.”

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The 7.4-billion-euro deal consists of grants and loans for the next three years, and about 5 billion euros of the funds are considered macro-financial assistance.

Both sides agreed to a “strategic and comprehensive partnership,” which could lead to an expansion of the Egypt-EU cooperation that benefits both non-economic and economic areas.

“The European Union recognizes Egypt as a reliable partner and its unique and vital geostrategic role as a pillar of security, moderation and peace in the Mediterranean, Near East and African region,” the two parties said in a joint statement after the summit.

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Abdel Fattah el-Sisi

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi listens during the 5th mid-year coordination meeting of the African Union, at the United Nations (UN) offices in Gigiri, Nairobi, on July 16, 2023. (Simon Maina/AFP via Getty Images)

The deal between the EU and Egypt is called the Joint Declaration, and is intended to promote “democracy, fundamental freedoms, human rights and gender equality,” the EU said.

But also included is a cooperation to take on the challenges of migration and terrorism.

The funds are intended to help Egypt bolster its borders next to places like Libya, where migrants pass through as they flee conflicts in the Middle East and Africa.

Egypt has taken in over 460,000 Sudanese since April 2023, as military chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan and Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, commander of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, continues to fight.

EGYPT STRENGTHENS ITS BORDER WITH GAZA AS ISRAEL CONTINUES ATTACKS

The conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza could also lead to hundreds of thousands of people flooding into Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula as the southernmost town of Gaza, Rafah, has taken in over 1 million people, the AP reported.

Currently, Egypt is reporting about 9 million migrants in the country, which includes about 480,000 who are registered with the U.N. refugee agency as refugees and asylum seekers.

The Egyptian coast has not been a major launching pad for human traffickers to send overcrowded boats to Europe by way of the Mediterranean Sea, though concerns about the matter are building as Egypt faces the pressures of migrants coming into the country.

BLINKEN LANDS IN EGYPT FOR HELP MEDIATING AN ISRAEL-HAMAS DEAL

Migrants at the Rafah crossing

Gazan residents with foreign passports and other foreign nationals wait at the Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip to enter Egypt, after the Egyptians’ approval for the first time since Operation Swords of Iron began on October 7, 2023. Rafah, Gaza. Nov 1, 2023.  ( Majdi Fathi/TPS)

The deal follows the template of other deals recently signed with Tunisia and Mauritania, which pledged funds in return for fortifying borders. Tunisia and Mauritania are both locations where migrants leave to cross the Mediterranean Sea in search of freedom in Italy and Spain.

Still, the package was criticized by international groups over Egypt’s history of human rights violations.

One group, Amnesty International, reportedly urged the EU not to take Egypt’s violations lightly.

“EU leaders must ensure that Egyptian authorities adopt clear benchmarks for human rights,” Eve Geddie, Amnesty International’s head of European institutions office said. She specifically pointed at the country’s restrictions on media and freedom of expression, as well as its crackdown on civil society.

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The European Commission spokesperson Eric Mamer acknowledged to reporters that there were issues with human rights violations, though he defended the partnership.

“Yes, we know the criticism related to human rights in those countries, and it is obvious that this is an issue,” he said. “Does that mean we should break off all relations? Would that lead to an improvement in the situation? Or should we try to find a way to work with those countries to improve the situation on the ground both for local populations and for migrants coming to those countries?”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

-24 Global News | Latest International Breaking News Today
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