The European Union is concerned that refugees might reroute through Egypt to reach the bloc as the Balkan route is closed, Vice-President of the European Parliament Alexander Graf Lambsdorff stated Thursday.
“There is a serious threat that not only Libya, but also western Egypt will become a transit region for refugees. One cannot just begin preparations [to tackle the situation], if the flow of migrants through Egypt has already been established,” Lambsdorff told Die Welt newspaper.
There is solid evidence that the refugee influx to Egypt is rising and therefore several European countries, including France and Italy, are calling for Operation Sophia to be expanded toward Egypt and Crete, the newspaper noted.
Operation Sophia was launched in June 2015 in response to the migration crisis in Europe as hundreds of thousands of refugees fled from the Middle East and Northern Africa to EU countries. Human traffickers and terrorist organizations have reportedly been capitalizing on people’s desperation to reach the bloc.
More than 1.8 million refugees are estimated to have arrived in the European Union in 2015, according to the European border agency Frontex.