October 17, 2013 - 15:23 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The Egyptian authorities must end their appalling policy of unlawfully detaining and forcibly returning hundreds of refugees who have fled the armed conflict in Syria, Amnesty International said.
Following the deaths in recent weeks of refugees and asylum-seekers crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa, a short report published by Amnesty International ‘We cannot live here any more’: Refugees from Syria in Egypt, throws a spotlight on the tragic consequences of Egypt’s hardline stance towards refugees from Syria.
More and more refugees are risking their lives to make the treacherous journey by sea to Europe – often paying smugglers up to $3,500 each to make the trip.
“The Egyptian authorities have a duty to provide protection to anyone who has fled the conflict in Syria and is seeking safe refuge in their country. At present Egypt is failing abysmally to meet its international obligations to protect even the most vulnerable refugees,” said Sherif Elsayed Ali, Amnesty International’s Head of Refugee and Migrants’ Rights.
“Instead of offering vital help and support to refugees from Syria the Egyptian authorities are arresting and deporting them, flouting human rights standards. Most refugees lost their homes and livelihoods when they fled Syria. Failing to help and protect them is a stain on the reputation of Egypt and could seriously damage its image as a key stakeholder in the region.”
Hundreds of refugees who fled Syria, including scores of children, many of them without their parents, face ongoing detention in poor conditions or deportation – in some cases separating family members. Amnesty International found two one-year-old twins among the refugees being indefinitely detained.
Several refugees told the organization that they felt compelled to leave Egypt due to the hostile conditions they face in the country.
The Egyptian navy has intercepted around 13 boats carrying refugees from Syria in their attempt to reach Europe. According to the latest figures from the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, 946 people have been arrested by the Egyptian authorities while attempting the crossing and 724 – women, children and men – remain in detention.
In most cases, once arrested people are kept in continued detention under orders of Egypt’s National Security agency, even after the public prosecution has ordered their release.