Egypt’s vanishing village men: Risking it all to get to Europe

Thousands of men from Egypt’s poor rural villages are disappearing to join the increasing number of Egyptians illegally migrating to Europe, often risking their lives and leaving families in debt due to the ballooning fees of smugglers, as Egypt’s economy continues to plummet.

Waves of migration: A dramatic rise in Egyptians leaving the country illegally, particularly through Libya, has been observed, corresponding to the deteriorating economy and skyrocketing inflation in Egypt.
* Men like Mahmoud Ibrahim, who had never left his town in Sharqiya, disappear only to call their families days later from Libya, requesting exorbitant sums to pay smugglers for a dangerous passage to Europe.
* Mohammed Ibrahim, brother of Mahmoud, explains the families often have no choice but to pay, as the migrants’ lives are controlled by the smugglers, where many migrants are abused, starved, or abandoned if they can’t pay.

The human cost: The illegal migration journey is perilous and often ends in tragedy, with many migrants dying en route to Europe.
* Mahmoud Ibrahim is believed to be one of hundreds who died when their overcrowded ship sank near Greece after departing from Libya.
* Out of an estimated 750 people aboard their ship, only 104 survived, with the botched rescue operation by the Greek coast guard drawing scrutiny.

Egyptian response: The Egyptian authorities, recognising the escalating crisis, have implemented measures to combat illegal migration and have launched campaigns to boost employment.
* The government strengthened laws targeting traffickers, preventing any ship carrying migrants illegally from leaving Egypt’s waters for Europe since 2016.
* Outreach programs training young men in jobs such as painting, carpentry, and plumbing are being launched, particularly in provinces with high levels of illegal migration.

Underlying economic woes: The increasing illegal migration has been triggered by a significant deterioration in the economic conditions in Egypt.
* Egypt’s economy was hit hard by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, leading to rising grain prices and causing the Egyptian currency to lose over half its value against the dollar.
* Basic food items have become unaffordable for millions of Egyptians, with prices for fish increasing by around 80%, grains, cheese, and eggs by about 60%, and meat and poultry by nearly 90% compared to a year ago.

View original article on NPR

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