20 December 2013
Last week Egypt’s Foreign Ministry announced the release of 171 of the 206 refugees from Syria detained in police stations across Egypt. Out of the 171, 94 are Palestinians and 77 are Syrians.
According to Human Rights Watch, of the 1,500 people detained on suspicion of attempting to use smugglers’ boats to migrate to Europe, including at least 250 children, more than 1,300 were coerced to leave, and some returned to the dangers of Syria.
Before 30 June, Syrians, who did not need a visa to travel to Egypt, felt generally welcome in the country. However, the treatment of Syrians in Egypt changed dramatically since former President Mohamed Morsi was ousted.
Human Rights Watch has urged the Egyptian authorities to release the remaining refugees from detention and to devise a long term solution for refugees from Syria, particularly for the roughly 5,000 Palestinians among them, by clarifying their legal status and facilitating their access to assistance and protection.
NGOs have called on other countries to increase the number of resettlement places for vulnerable refugees who have fled Syria, and are currently in Egypt and other countries in the Middle East and North Africa region.