UN human rights experts denounce Egypt’s deportation of Eritrean refugees

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United Nations experts called on the Egyptian authorities to immediately halt the ongoing expulsion of Eritrean asylum seekers, expressing deep concern over what they described as a policy of arbitrary and mass displacement of Eritreans.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) issued a report warning the Egyptian authorities that such policies violate international law, calling on the government to end the arbitrary detention of refugees and ensure that those detained enjoy their full rights. According to the United Nations, Egypt currently holds between 70 and 200 Eritreans, including children, at risk of deportation. Since October 2021, Egypt has deported at least 68 Eritrean nationals, including children, without assessing the risks they might face upon returning to their homeland.

Asylum seekers in Egypt are usually held in overcrowded police stations for a few months to several years and are denied adequate food, water, and medical care. Also, they are never told if they have been accused of criminal offences, and they are denied access to lawyers or UNHCR.

UNHCR experts said that although Egypt is a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention, it lacks an adequate national legal framework to protect asylum seekers. They demanded that the Egyptian authorities stop returning Eritrean men, women and children to danger and instead give them protection in line with Egypt’s international obligations.