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Amnesty calls for Egypt to stop deporting Eritrea refugees

March 26, 2022 at 5:09 pm

Israeli policemen and immigration officers watch as African asylum seeker move on after spending the last two days protesting in an outdoor camp near the Nitzana border crossing with Egypt in the Negev Desert on June 29, 2014 [OREN ZIV/AFP via Getty Images]

Amnesty International has called on Friday for Egypt to stop the deportation of Eritrean refugees to their home, where they would face serious human rights violations, including torture.

The rights group said that Egypt had deported 31 Eritreans in the past two weeks: “In violation of the prohibition of refoulement under international law.”

According to Amnesty International, there are: “Up to 50 people including a baby and three children under seven” detained in Egypt “are now at imminent risk of deportation”, noting that they “had no access to asylum procedures or the possibility to challenge their expulsion orders.”

Philip Luther, research and advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa for Amnesty International, said: “These deportations would be a grave breach of Egypt’s obligations under international law and must be halted immediately.”

He added: “There is a well-documented pattern of those forcibly returned to Eritrea being interrogated, arbitrarily detained and tortured,” stressing that Egypt “must” grant the detained refugees “access to asylum procedures, and stop sending people back to danger.”

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Luther also called on Egypt: “To put an end to the prolonged arbitrary detention of Eritreans and ensure that, pending their release, current detainees are held in conditions that meet international standards.”

According to Amnesty International: “Arbitrarily detained Eritreans, including children, are held without charge or trial in cruel and inhuman conditions, and denied access to adequate medical care, items for personal hygiene including sanitary napkins, clothes and sufficient food.”

The authorities also frequently refuse to grant detained Eritreans access to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), thereby obstructing their right to an asylum process.

Amnesty confirmed that, in November 2021, there were 20,778 Eritrean asylum seekers and refugees registered with the UNHCR in Egypt. The number of those in need of protection is likely to be much higher, as not all Eritreans in Egypt are documented and/or registered with UNHCR.