Amnesty slams Egypt's forcible return of Eritrean refugees

Amnesty slams Egypt's forcible return of Eritrean refugees
Despite evident dangers to Eritreans forced to return home to the rule of Isiais Ifwerki, the Egyptian government is keeping up the pace of deportations.
2 min read
25 March, 2022
None of the Eritreans under threat of removal have had access to asylum procedures [Getty]

A group of 50 Eritrean refugees are at imminent risk of deportation from Egypt amid a spike in removals of undocumented migrants, Amnesty International has said on Friday.

The refugees, including a baby and three children under seven, have been detained in the southern city of Aswan since the start of 2022, the rights group said.

None of the Eritreans under threat of removal have had access to asylum procedures or the possibility to challenge their expulsion orders, according to Amnesty.

"There is a well-documented pattern of those forcibly returned to Eritrea being interrogated, arbitrarily detained, and tortured. Egyptian authorities must grant this group access to asylum procedures, and stop sending people back to danger," said Philip Luther, research and advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa for Amnesty International.

Earlier this month, Egyptian authorities deported 31 migrants from Egypt to Asmara, the capital of Eritrea.

Among those deported was a disabled woman who was unable to hear or speak, according to rights group Refugee Platforms in Egypt.

At least 40 Eritreans were deported between October and December 2021, said Amnesty - and nothing has been heard of the individuals removed since they arrived in Eritrean territory.

Rights organisations allege that once detained, Eritreans often receive no medical care or legal recourse to challenge their situation. 

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has said that Egypt hosts around "six million people who came to the country due to ongoing conflicts or the magnitude of poverty in nearby countries".

"We do not call them refugees," he told a forum held this month in the resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh.

"They are integrated into our society, they eat and drink, they receive (medical) treatment and whatever (resources) we have are made available to them."

There were no statistics on unregistered refugees in Egypt, for whom living conditions are often perilous.

The UNHCR recorded around 21,000 Eritrean refugees in Egypt until the end of last year. 

Most are fleeing the authoritarian rule of President Isaias Afwerki, whose abysmal human rights record has led some to dub Eritrea "Africa's North Korea".