Egypt arrests 23 accused of migrant trafficking on Wednesday

Egyptian police have arrested 23 people allegedly involved in migrant smuggling activities by sea and land in three different governorates, two separate statements by the interior ministry said on Wednesday.

According an early morning statement, Alexandria's security directorate arrested 11 people who allegedly specialised in luring youth seeking work in Europe into illegal migration over sea by vessels unsafe for the transportation of humans.

The ministry said it arrested two men in Menoufiya and Daqahliya governorates reportedly involved in similar illegal migration activities on the Mediterranean.

Earlier on Wednesday, Egyptian authorities arrested nine alleged migrant smugglers in the northern governorate of Beheira close to where a migrant boat sunk last week, killing more than 200 people, state news agency MENA reported.

Police said they were tipped off that the men were planning to illegally transport migrants of several nationalities to Italy.

The men were arrested on Tuesday in the Beheira towns of Rosetta and Edko and are being interrogated by prosecutors.

The boat that capsized last Wednesday off the Mediterranean coast near Rosetta left 202 at least people dead and rescue workers and fishermen said they had rescued at least 169 people.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said on Tuesday it believed at least 450 people, including Egyptian, Sudanese, Eritrean and Somali migrants were aboard the ship and that about 300 perished in the accident.

Five crew members have been arrested over the incident.

More than 300,000 migrants – many of whom looking to reach Europe from the African coast to escape political turmoil and economic hardship – have crossed the Mediterranean so far this year from various points of departure, the UN said this week.

More than 10,000 people have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean from Europe since 2014, according to the United Nations.


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