About 50 Palestinian and Syrian refugees in Egyptian prisons started a hunger strike on Friday in protest against the inhuman conditions of their detention, an official for the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) said.
The refugees were arrested while trying to "illegally" travel from Egypt to Europe by sea. The UNHCR official said: "They refused to accept the food we offered them."
According to official Egyptian data, 320,000 Syrians have entered the country since March 2011 after fleeing the conflict in Syria. Some of these refugees tried to leave onboard overcrowded ships to Europe. The Egyptian coast guards have intercepted a number.
Meanwhile, the regional representative of UNHCR, Mohamed al-Deeri, said that the refugees are obliged to pay for the travel tickets if they wanted to return to Syria or travel to another country. "Otherwise, they have to remain in prisons indefinitely," he said.
Several human rights organisations have condemned the detention of Syrian and Palestinian children with their families by the Egyptian authorities.
Recently, Human Rights Watch reported that more than 1,500 people who fled from Syria were arrested in Egypt. Most were deported.