30 April 2014

140 refugees and asylum seekers, including 68 children – most of whom are Syrian or Palestinians from Syria – are being unlawfully detained in Egypt. Three of the men are facing deportation to Syria by the Egyptian authorities if they don’t pay for their own ticket and return to Lebanon, Turkey or Malaysia where they had initially sought asylum. The group of people have been detained since 14 April when they were arrested while attempting to leave Egypt for Europe on smugglers’ boats. Several of the people including two of the men facing expulsion are registered as refugees with UNHCR.

“Egypt must stop shirking its responsibility towards those seeking refuge in Egypt. The authorities have repeatedly displayed a chilling lack of compassion to the plight of refugees from Syria who often suffer routine discrimination and detention. Many of them have escaped the bloody conflict in Syria, only to face further misery in Egypt. They should be immediately released and granted access to asylum procedures,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

Amnesty International affirms that the migrants, who are currently being detained, are being held in unhygienic conditions in the police station and that the children have been unwell due to the harsh conditions they experienced prior to their arrest.

UNHCR has registered over 136,000 Syrian refugees in Egypt. Egypt’s approach to the entry and stay of Syrians changed in July 2013 when the government imposed entry visas and security clearance on Syrians seeking to enter Egypt. Human Rights Watch reported last November that over 1,200 refugees were coerced to leave Egypt including dozens who returned to Syria.

Together with over 100 NGOs, ECRE is calling on European leaders to give refugees from Syria a safe way into Europe, protect refugees arriving at the borders and reunite families torn apart by war. You can also speak up for increased resettlement by signing the #HelpSyriasRefugees petition. You can find the campaign’s recommendations here.

This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 30 April 2014
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