The European Council President, Charles Michel, has warned that the ongoing conflict between Palestinian militant groups and Israel poses a serious threat to the EU, as it could lead to a new influx of refugees. Speaking at a press conference, Michel emphasized the need for the EU to cooperate with Egypt in order to prevent a potential refugee exodus. Egypt, which shares a border with Gaza, has already been dealing with “millions of refugees,” and Michel pointed out that the situation could have dire consequences for both Egypt and Europe.
Michel stressed the importance of establishing a broad partnership on migration with Egypt to facilitate access to Gaza. He acknowledged that Cairo has expressed reluctance to open its borders with the Palestinian enclave, citing frequent attacks on the border crossing area. Egypt also views the conflict as a threat to maintaining the possibility of a two-state solution between Palestine and Israel.
The European Council President highlighted the global impact of the recent escalation in the region, which has fueled polarization among different groups. In light of this, he called on EU leaders to work together to defuse tensions and combat both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.
Concerns about a potential refugee exodus were heightened when the Palestinian armed group, Hamas, launched a surprise attack on Israel on October 7, resulting in numerous casualties. In response, the Israeli military ordered 1.1 million residents of northern Gaza to evacuate their homes. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres criticized this move, citing the danger and difficulties faced by civilians trying to navigate a warzone without access to basic necessities.
Israel further intensified the situation by implementing a “complete siege” on Gaza, cutting off its access to essential resources such as food, water, and electricity. Egypt has also kept the Rafah crossing, the only land corridor with Gaza, closed. However, despite this closure, it has been reported that Egypt is preparing for a potential surge in refugee numbers.
Given these circumstances, Michel reiterated the urgent need for EU-Egypt cooperation to address the refugee crisis. This partnership would aim to prevent a mass exodus from Gaza to Egypt and subsequently to Europe. By working closely with Egypt, the EU hopes to mitigate the humanitarian and security risks posed by the conflict.
In conclusion, the European Council President’s warning about the potential refugee influx highlights the need for proactive measures to address the ongoing conflict. Cooperation between the EU and Egypt is crucial in order to prevent further displacement and ensure the safety and well-being of those affected by the violence. By actively engaging with Egypt and supporting efforts to find a peaceful resolution, the EU aims to prevent a humanitarian crisis and the strain it would place on countries in the region, as well as in Europe.