Two Eritrean refugees resettle in Canada after 10 years in prison in Egypt

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Eritrean refugees Alm Tesfaye Abraham and Kiprom Adhanom have arrived at Toronto airport for resettlement in Canada after being detained in Egypt for nearly 10 years inside the foreigners’ ward of Al-Qanater Prison for men.

A legal source familiar with the case from the Refugee Platform in Egypt, an organisation concerned with refugee affairs and rights, said that the two were held in prison arbitrarily.

The Egyptian security forces arrested Abraham in 2012 while he was trying to migrate unofficially from Sudan to Libya via Egypt, to get to Europe. Adhanom was kidnapped by a human trafficking gang from eastern Sudan and sold to another in eastern Sinai where he was detained and tortured for months, and after they thought he was dead, they threw him in the desert. Then, in December 2013, the Egyptian army arrested him, and he was transferred between several secret detention facilities in Sinai and Ismailia, before being transferred in 2014 to Al-Qanater Prison.

Abraham and Adhanom signed their resettlement papers during the past weeks, after the intervention and mediation of the High Commissioner for Refugees in Egypt, in addition to pressure from several Eritrean activists in Egypt, the United States and Canada.

The Egyptian authorities recently forcibly deported about 40 Eritreans, including women and children, during October, November, and December 2021. Deported Eritreans face severe penalties in their home country that may amount to death and life imprisonment if they leave the country unofficially, or escape from conscription, which Amnesty International has previously described as akin to forced labour.

A human rights source familiar with the case said that there are dozens of Eritreans in the situation of Alam and Kiprom and the deported Eritreans. The source added: “I hope that the UNHCR will intervene, considering their emergency situation, and resettle them in a third country.”