German Chancellor Angela Merkel has started her tour of North Africa where she is set to discuss migration and development in the region. Activists have called on her to also address human rights abuses.
As part of her push to limit migrant flows to Europe through North Africa, German Chancellor Angela Merkel landed in Egypt on Thursday for a meeting with President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.
In response to the large number of people still making the dangerous trip across the Mediterranean Sea, Merkel's government has already urged the Maghreb states and Egypt to step up border controls and speed up repatriations of rejected asylum-seekers.
Speaking in her latest weekly podcast, Merkel said that "without a political stabilization of Libya, we won't be able to stop the human traffickers operating out of Libya who are responsible for, by far, the most arrivals in Italy.
"Egypt, as a regional institution, as a regional power, plays a major role here, as do Algeria and Tunisia," the chancellor added.
However, negotiations with the North African countries over immigration have been largely clouded by human rights concerns.
Judith Sunderland, the Europe and Central Asia director for Human Rights Watch, said, "Ensuring safe and swift returns of Tunisians and Egyptians who are not in need of protection is legitimate, as long as the procedures are fair."
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"It's another thing entirely to pursue dodgy deals that could trap asylum-seekers and migrants from elsewhere in countries like Tunisia and Egypt that cannot guarantee decent treatment or meaningful access to asylum," she added.
Fears for Coptic Christians
Meanwhile, the bishop of the Coptic-Orthodox Church in Germany, Anba Damian, urged the chancellor to address the situation of the
Christian minority in Egypt.
"The Coptic Christians expect more rights and more protection, "Damian said, adding that they need "equal liberties like their Muslim fellow citizens."