Will Egypt help cure EU's migration headache?

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By Isabel Marques da Silva  & Damon Embling
Refugees welcome at church if they are evicted from detenton, say priests
Refugees welcome at church if they are evicted from detenton, say priests   -  Copyright  Reuters

After Turkey and Libya, the EU's now turned its sights on Egypt - to help curb migration towards the continent.

Leaders meeting at last week's informal summit in Salzburg gave the all clear for dialogue with Cairo.

But some voices say that any cooperation should not lead to external processing centres.

"If we create in a country, for example, a transition or detention centre, do you think that this would help? It would not," said Ambassador Ahmat Awad Sakine, Permanent Representative of the African Union to the European Union.

"The people would get around them and look for other paths and leave anyway. I think that the real problem is (economic) development".

UN migration and refugee agencies would be earmarked for partnerships, to select people that could come to Europe. But critics say the EU should be tackling the issues on its soil, before looking further afield for help.

"Excessively restrictive measures will just foster the market available to the traffickers that thrive on the lack of legal possibilities for arriving in Europe," commented Eugenio Ambrosi, IOM Regional Director for Europe.

"So, we believe that before it asks a country outside of Europe to help out, Europe has to put in place a solid and verifiable mechanism of burden sharing among themselves."

Egypt's set to take up the rotating presidency of the African Union in 2019. It's also hosting a meeting with EU leaders next February.

Ahmat Awad Sakine added: "At the African Union level we said that from now to 2020 we need to silence the weapons, so there will not be armed conflicts in Africa any longer. That will allow those countries to be stable and to consecrate their efforts to development."