This is a Chapter of the Study “How does the media on both sides of the Mediterranean report on migration?” carried out and prepared by the Ethical Journalism Network and commissioned in the framework of EUROMED Migration IV – a project, financed by the European Union and implemented by ICMPD. © European Union, 2017.
Positive Stories but Questions Remain over Self-Censorship and Lack of In-Depth Coverage
By Sarah El-Shaarawi and Abdulrahman Elsamni
Given Egypt’s location at the northern tip of Africa, its proximity to regional conflict zones and its shores as a gateway to the Mediterranean, the country has long been a transit point for migrants seeking better lives either through legal or irregular means.
In recent years, with crises in nearby nations ballooning, the influx of migrants to the country has spiked. This was particularly true when the 2003 USA-led invasion of Iraq forced millions to flee from their homes. By 2007, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated that over two million Iraqis had fled the country. According to official registered numbers about 150,000 of them landed in Egypt.
Since civil war broke out in 2011, millions of Syrians have fled the war-torn country. Official statistics as of 31 October 2016 place the number of registered refugees residing in Egypt at just over 115,000 (UNHCR).
However, these numbers reflect only those registered, and the actual number is likely to be substantially higher. These figures reflect the numbers most frequently quoted in Egyptian media, which put the total number of refugees, including economic refugees, living in Egypt in 2016 at 5,000,000, with 4,000,0000 of those African, 500,000 Syrian, and 400,000 Iraqi.
Since 2015 there has been a relatively consistent narrative pertaining to issues of migration in the Egyptian mainstream media, including both state run and private news outlets. There has also been consistent coverage, naturally peaking when major events take place. However, given the political, social, and economic turbulence at home and abroad, particularly in the last year, stories about migration have not been at the top of editorial agendas.