Egypt threatens to flood Italy with migrants
Egypt has threatened to flood Italy with Europe-bound migrants after Rome recently halted the supply of military equipment in protest at the killing of Italian student Giulio Regeni.
Egypt said on Wednesday that it would stop co-operating with Italy over the migrant crisis as the row with Italy over Regeni's death heats up.
Italy's Senate voted to halt supplies to Egypt of spare parts for F16 warplanes, the first steps taken against Cairo since the death of Regeni.
"We regret the decision and are considering taking similar measures that affect areas of cooperation with Italy," a foreign ministry statement said.
"[The measures] will affect bilateral, regional and international cooperation between Italy and Egypt, including a review of ongoing cooperation in combating illegal immigration in the Mediterranean and dealing with the situation in Libya," it added.
Regeni, a 28-year-old Italian PhD student who was researching Egyptian trade unions, went missing in Cairo on the evening of 25 January, the fifth anniversary of the 2011 uprising that overthrew former dictator Hosni Mubarak.
|Regeni's death has strained Egyptian-Italian relations [Getty]
His mutilated body was found a week later at the side of a road on Cairo's outskirts, suggesting he died of torture at the hands of security services during an interrogation, an allegation the Egyptian government has strongly denied.
An Egyptian international relations expert told The New Arab that the ministry statement was "out-of-line".
"Unfortunately, the statement seems as if it was written by thugs, who when agitated try to turn the table on everyone," the expert, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said.
"It has not presented a single logical answer. How did Egyptian decision-makers not see that?" he added.
Last Month, the head of the EU's border agency voiced concern that growing numbers of Europe-bound migrants were turning to Egypt as a departure point for their perilous sea journey.
"Egypt is starting to become a departure country," said Frontex chief Fabrice Leggeri in an interview with the Funke group of German regional newspapers.
"The number of boat crossings from Egypt to Italy has reached 1,000 (so far) this year," he said.
Several North African ports, including Libyan ones, are gaining popularity as departure points, with Italy emerging as the key destination.