An uncontrollable situation would have unfolded along the Libyan-Egyptian border if air strikes had not been launched, Foreign Minister János Martonyi, said to the eu2011.hu website, following his visit on behalf of the EU Presidency, to see what the European Union can do to aid refugees.
The Egyptian authorities are in control of the situation, the Foreign Minister recounted his experience by phone from Egypt. According to János Martonyi, this is partly due to the excellent cooperation among the authorities and international organisations, such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent.
On behalf of the Hungarian EU Presidency, the Hungarian Foreign Minister met the local governor, the municipal prefect and the local military commander, on 22 March in Sallum, an Egyptian village near the Libyan border. The Minister also visited the border checkpoint and looked at humanitarian matters concerning refugees. “We inspected the situation and listened to everybody”, János Martonyi described in the meetings.
Presently, there are a little over one thousand refugees in the territory, mostly Black Africans with the largest group coming from Chad. The biggest problem is that most of them have no passport, although this can be solved thanks to the good cooperation with the Embassy of Chad in Cairo. Now, the most pressing task is to settle the situation of refugees, Mr Martonyi stressed.
Due to recent military interventions, initiated under the UN Security Council’s resolution, the refugee situation has improved, and Benghazi is now considered a safe city. By contrast, the situation would have been uncontrollable, if air strikes were not launched: hundreds of thousands of people could have turned up along the border, the Foreign Minster said. He added that financial support is still required, and the exchange of information with international organisations, and the Egyptian authorities, remains highly important.
János Martonyi is holding talks in the Egyptian capital, Cairo on 23 March. EU Commissioner, Cecilia Malmström, will accompany him. They will jointly meet with Egyptian Home Minister, Mansour el-Essawy, and Foreign Minister, Nabil el-Araby.