Migration and emigration are duel phenomenon that occur in all global societies and play a significant role in Egyptian history and evolution. Ancient Egypt people had migrated together and formed organized societies, where the pharaoh had united the peoples of the Nile, with those living up and downstream into a single empire. During Egypt’s prosperity, the region thrived; they constructed massive pyramids, created art, established a writing system, advanced in science, built irrigation systems, and developed trade with Middle Eastern and Asian neighbors. As the Egyptian empire had begun to decay and divide, those who sought to conquer and claim it: Greeks, Romans, British and Arab nations among other, influenced individuals reason to migrate to other regions and countries (Zohry, 2003).
Migration phenomenon has both internal and external factors that affect the fluctuation, such as socioeconomic, political, religious and cultural conditions from both the exit and entrance countries. Until the mid-1950’s there was more emigration than migration from Egypt. This was largely due to the rapid growth of Arab gulf oil, economic difficulties, poverty and a population explosion, simultaneously this precipitated the migration of Egyptian to the gulf and other countries. Egypt’s population between 1897 and 1947 went from 9.7 million to 19 million, in fifty year; the next doubling took less than 30 years from 1947 to 1976. Today Egypt’s population is approximately 70 million, with an annual growth rate of about 2% per year and 95% of that population lives is in the 5% of total viable living area (95% desert) primarily around the Nile, and migration to larger cities, contributes to an unbalance population distribution (Zohry, 2003).
When large migratory patterns of humans occur it is usually in response to adverse reasons such as; better living conditions, freedom of religion, less restrictive governments, civil liberties and rights, conflicts, wars, over population, unemployment, etc., but let us not also forget reasons that are for joyous occasions, like rejoining family or job relocation, etc. For some individuals it is within the region or country and others it is more global. It is estimated that Egyptian migrants abroad is approximately 2.7 million, with 70% in Arab countries, and the other 30% in Europe and North America, they also had the biggest remittance rate of immigrants (IOM, 2010).
Egyptian emigration has never stopped since the 1970”s, and went through a few phases. Until 1971 emigration in Egypt was subject to legal restrictions and a limited number of entrances. It was not until the adoption of the 1971 Constitution that some liberal guidelines were put in place. Egypt’s immigration stream has still been limited, but an increasing number of refugees and asylum seekers have entered the country. Per Migration Policy Centre (2013), “some 70,000 Palestine refugees whose families arrived in the wake of the 1948 war, with tens of thousands of refugees from Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia and Iraq.”
Rules governing foreign national’s entry and exit from Egypt go back to 1960’s, and in 1961 and was reformed to state that Syrian and Arab citizens are subject to the same entry conditions as other foreign nationals (Migration Policy Centre, 2013), with sanctions for irregular entry that were strengthened. Due to turbulent Middle Eastern affairs an influx of migration, emigration and refugees has also occurred, with this irregular migration human trafficking has become a major issue and concern in Egypt.
Whereas Egypt has achieved high levels of standardization in its emigration policies, the institutional framework regulating its immigration policies remains tenuous. Receptivity to labor immigration contributes to the growth of the informal sector (particularly in low skilled workforce). “Moreover, the absence of a clear framework regarding refugees means large numbers of stranded migrants and de facto refugees in the country” (MPC, 2013). Still various initiatives ensue in attempt to improve emigration’s socio-political framework and policies.
Migration Facts Egypt. (n.d.). Retrieved April 1, 2013, from http://www.migrationpolicycentre.eu/docs/migration_profiles/Egypt.pdf
Migration Policy Centre (MPC). Migration Facts Egypt. (n.d.). Retrieved April 1, 2013, from http://www.migrationpolicycentre.eu/docs/fact_sheets/Factsheet Egypt.pdf
International Organization for Migration (IOM) Migration and development in Egypt. (n.d.). Retrieved 2010, from http://www.egypt.iom.int/Doc/IOM Migration and Development in Egypt Facts and Figures (English).pdf http://www.egypt.iom.int/Doc/IOM%20Migration%20and%20Development%20in%20Egypt%20Facts%20and%20Figures%20(English).pdf
Zohry, A. (n.d.). The place of Egypt in the regional migration system as a receiving country. Revue Europeenne Des Migrations Internationales, 19(3), 129-149.