Merkel heads to Egypt, Tunisia to reduce migrant flows

German Chancellor Angela Merkel starts a two-day trip to Egypt and Tunisia on Thursday, part of her push to limit migrant flows to Europe through North Africa, especially chaos-torn Libya.

Since the 2011 overthrow of Moamer Kadhafi, Libya has lacked a national government, which has made it the main gateway for African migrants heading for the 28-member EU on dangerous Mediterranean crossings.

Merkel, who faces elections in September, has been under intense pressure to reduce the number of asylum seekers coming to Germany, which has taken in over one million migrants since 2015.

Her government has urged the Maghreb states and Egypt to step up border controls and speed up repatriations of migrants whose asylum applications are rejected.

Merkel first heads to Egypt, where she will meet President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, before holding talks on Friday with Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi.

She is joined by a business delegation that could sweeten the diplomacy with investments badly needed by both countries, which are grappling with sluggish economies, tourism slumps after internal turmoil and jihadist attacks, and high unemployment, especially among youths.

A major focus in Egypt and Tunisia will be on their troubled neighbour Libya, a largely lawless country that has porous desert borders with Algeria, Niger, Chad and Sudan.

Source: National News Agency