north africa

Merkel’s Refugee Deal for Egypt

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants from Africa risk the perilous, often fatal, journey across the Mediterranean.

  • Facts


    • Chancellor Angela Merkel is visiting Egypt and Tunisia, where she is discussing the migrant crisis, terrorism and bilateral economic relations.
    • Ms. Merkel and some members of her government have proposed setting up refugee camps in North Africa to prevent people from making the dangerous trip across the Mediterranean.
    • Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has said the idea is unrealistic because countries such as Tunisia are not stable enough.
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Angel Merkel has praised Egypt's stability. Human rights activists aren't happy. Picture souce: Reuters/Amr Dalsh

Chancellor Angela Merkel is known for choosing her words carefully. Before departing for Cairo, she called Egypt a “stabilizing element” in a region that has descended into sectarian warfare.

The Arab world’s most populous nation has always played a critical role in the Middle East. For Ms. Merkel, Egypt is a lynchpin in her strategy to slow the movement of migrants from North Africa.

The chancellor met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in Cairo on Friday to discuss the civil war in neighboring Libya, the migrant crisis, counterterrorism, and bilateral economic relations.

Ms. Merkel is keen to cut a deal with the Egyptian president. The country has become an increasingly important transit region for migrants and refugees who may be seeking to cross into Europe. According to the U.N. Refugee Agency, Egypt is hosting 190,000 refugees, 120,000 of whom have fled the civil war in Syria.

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