Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

U.N. to address Egypt’s deportation of Eritrean asylum seekers

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) has objected to Egypt’s forced deportation of some 1,000 Eritrean asylum seekers this June and is engaged in talks with Cairo to address the matter, Reuters reported Monday.

“We understand that countries have the right to protect their borders. . . But this is not incompatible with granting protection to those that are really in need,” said Commissioner Antonio Guterres, head of the U.N. refugee agency.

As the article notes, Egypt deported the asylum seekers “in its largest forced returns of probable refugees in decades, despite concern by Amnesty International that they might face torture.”

Egypt has housed tens of thousands of African migrants over the years, but recent pressure from Israel to halt African migration through the porous Egypt/Israel border has prompted a tougher stance on immigration.

Sixteen African migrants have been shot dead by Egyptian authorities at the Israeli border this year.

In addition to the Eritreans already deported, hundreds more are being held in detention centers and face imminent deportation, activists say.

Eritrean asylum seekers are often fleeing religious persecution and enlistment into the armed services. According to the article, “Many are not keen to stay in Egypt, where they face racism and economic marginalization.”

For the full article, click here.


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