Egyptian authorities in the Delta governorate of Kafr El-Sheikh foiled on Saturday an attempt by 47 people to illegally migrate to Europe via the Mediterranean, state-run news agency MENA reported.
Police have arrested two suspected human traffickers believed to have organised the migration attempt.
The traffickers reportedly collected money from each of the migrants, both foreign and Egyptian, before they were to board a fishing boat for Europe.
The would-be migrants comprised 21 foreigners and 26 Egyptians.
In November, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ratified a law aimed at curbing irregular migration and cracking down on human trafficking along the country’s northern Mediterranean coast, where thousands of migrants embark on dangerous boat journeys to Europe.
While the legislation does not punish the migrants themselves, it imposes jail terms on those convicted of human trafficking or acting as brokers or facilitators. In September 2016, a boat carrying up to 450 people capsized off Egypt’s northern coast. At least 202 bodies were recovered from the sea and 169 people were rescued.
In March, an Egyptian court handed jail terms to 56 people involved in the disaster.
In June 2016, around 320 migrants drowned off the Greek island of Crete after setting sail from Egypt.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), more than 5,000 migrants are thought to have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea in 2016, a record figure the organisation described as “a devastating milestone.”
In recent years, thousands of migrants and refugees from a number of countries have attempted to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe, with an increasing number departing via smuggling boats from Egypt’s northern coast.
Source: Ahram online