Egypt has currently turned to become the main route of migration for Eritrean refugees, who infiltrate from Sudan to Egypt in an attempt to reach Europe via the Mediterranean Sea. Tens of them are flocking daily to Cairo, especially in the last two months and up to date. In the beginning of last year (2016), the number of Eritrean refugees in Egypt reached 6,000 according to the UNHCR records. However, this year the number is expected to be doubled than the last year.
They started to shift their way towards Egypt because of its stable situation, compared to its neighbor Libya, where many terrorist groups and armed gangs proliferated, after the fall of the Gadhafi regime in 2011. That security anarchy made the immigration route risky and very difficult. The number of Eritrean refugees started to a decrease in Libya and thus Egypt became, since then a major transit country for Eritrean refugees. The worsening situation faced by Eritrean migrants in Sudan also adds to their increasing number in Egypt.
These migrants fled from their country Eritrea to Sudan via land borders and then in the same way infiltrate into Egypt through smuggling routes by human trafficking networks in the two countries.
The youths(males and females) constitute the largest proportion of the total immigrants, who flock to Egypt in the last few years and the rest of the proportion of the refugees are from the minors and families with their children and a few others unaccompanied children.
Most of those who attempt to emigrate to Europe are young people, who do not want to apply for asylum in Egypt, and wait for its long process of granting asylum and resettlement.
With the increase in the number of Eritrean refugees in Egypt, considerable number of restaurants, cafes, barber shops and other service facility places, which offer their services to the refugees have been launched by the refugees themselves in the Egyptian capital Cairo.
Most of those service providing facilities lie in a district known as Ard-Lewa in the Giza area, in the outskirts of Cairo. Such restaurants and shops did not exist until the last year, and this indicates the surge in the number of Eritrean refugees in Egypt from time to another.
Unfortunately, Eritrean refugees also face problems with the increase in their numbers in Egypt. Crimes like physical attacks, harassment, looting and rape tend to escalate against the refugees and represent security challenge to them. The crimes are carried out mostly by Egyptian thugs and also by some African refugee gangs.
Detention and deportation of Eritrean refugees by the Egyptian authorities have also increased significantly in recent times, compared to previous years. Considerable number of the refugees have been arrested in this year, especially after the mid-year while trying to sneak into Egypt from Sudan and also while in transit to Europe across the Mediterranean. This development has caused a slowdown in the UNHCR’s process of the registration and protection of Eritrean migrants and in their deportation to Eritrea for the lack of refugee documents.
Amidst the vast number of Eritrean refugees and other refugees in Egypt in the current year, the disaster and tragedy of refugees in the Mediterranean Sea are feared to be repeated again. Many others also could be subjected to detention and face the risk of deportation to their country with its consequences.