Scores of refugees risk Egypt deportation: Amnesty
Amnesty International have urged Egypt to release dozens of mostly Palestinian refugees who have fled the Syrian conflict, saying they were being held illegally and threatened with extradition.
Since the coup against the elected president Mohamed Morsi last year, Egyptian authorities and media have targeted Syrian and Palestinian refugees suspected of Muslim Brotherhood sympathies.
Among at least 66 refugees currently in detention is a group of 56 Palestinians from Syria, rescued by the Egyptian navy on an island 2.5 miles (4 km) north of Alexandria and then arrested.
They were abandoned last month by people smugglers who were to have arranged their passage to Europe, London-based Amnesty said Friday.
"The public prosecutor ordered their release on November 5, but the national security department still issued them with deportation orders. They are at imminent risk of forcible return to Syria," an Amnesty statement said.
It said at that least 15 women and children aged between eight months and 16 were in the group.
Five Palestinians who fled the Gaza Strip after Israel's summer offensive are also in custody and face being returned to the enclave, the rights group said.
"By unlawfully detaining dozens of refugees and issuing them with deportation orders the Egyptian authorities have displayed a shocking level of indifference to their suffering," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.
"The Egyptian authorities are cruelly flouting their international obligations and Egypt's constitution to offer protection and sanctuary to those seeking refuge in their country."
Amnesty cited available information as showing Egypt this year has deported at least 150 refugees from Syria back there or to other countries, including Lebanon and Turkey.