Amnesty International has accused Egypt of detaining and deporting hundreds of refugees who fled from the conflict in Syria. The human rights organisation condemned the detention of children and their families in separate facilities before sending them back to a war-torn country.
"Egypt illegally detains hundreds of Syrian and Palestinian refugees who have fled the conflict which began in March 2011 in Syria," said Amnesty. "Hundreds of refugees were expelled to countries in the region, including Syria. In this way Egypt separates families."
Sharif Sayyid Ali, who is in charge of refugees' and migrants' rights at Amnesty, said that Egypt failed miserably to respect its international obligations to protect destitute refugees. "Instead of providing vital support for them, the Egyptian authorities have arrested and deported them, which constitutes a violation of human rights."
Amnesty officials visited a police station in Alexandria where one year old twins have been detained since September 17. Another nine year old girl from Aleppo in northern Syria was arrested and prevented from seeing her mother for four days; the girl was detained when she tried to board a ship in the port. The organisation met lawyers who say they were prevented from representing asylum seekers and that the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has also been unable to have access to them. The lawyers claimed that the Egyptian authorities have made collective expulsions of refugees to Damascus twice.
More than 100,000 Syrians have sought refuge in Egypt and some have gone on to try reach Europe on overcrowded ships .Amnesty cited a UN spokesperson who said that the Egyptian navy has intercepted 13 ships; 946 refugees were arrested by the authorities, including 724 women and children who are still in detention.