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Posted on: July 25th, 2013 by AlYunaniya Staff No Comments

Syrian refugees face wave of racism in Egypt


photo: UNRWA

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Human Rights groups have called on Egyptian authorities to stop arbitrarily detaining Syrians and threatening to summarily deport them.

“The authorities should release the Syrian detainees unless they are promptly charged with a valid offense, and not deport Syrians with visas or asylum seekers without their claims being impartially reviewed.,” Human Rights Watch said in a statement.

According to HRW, On July 19 and 20, 2013, Egyptian police and military police arrested at least 72 Syrian men and nine boys at checkpoints on main roads in Cairo. Those who remain in custody, including registered asylum seekers and at least nine Syrians with valid visas or residence permits, have apparently not been charged with any offense.

The authorities have threatened to deport at least 14 of them to countries neighboring Syria, Human Rights Watch said.

“There is growing hostility in Egypt to the Syrians who fled there seeking refuge from the war,” said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “But a tense political climate is no excuse for police and army officers to pull dozens of Syrian men and boys off of public transport and throw them in jail without regard for their rights.”

Human Rights Watch expressed concern that Syrian asylum seekers may be deported without a fair examination of their asylum claims, as required by international law.

The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, in Egypt has registered, or is in the process of registering, some 90,000 asylum seekers from Syria.

Since the Egyptian military removed Mohammed Mursi from power on July 3, regulations governing Syrians’ entrance to Egypt have changed.

Since July 8, Syrians have been required to obtain entry visas and security clearance before they arrive in Egypt, a hardship for those fleeing fighting.

Arrests of Syrians living in Egypt have increased to levels that activists working with Syrian refugees in Cairo told Human Rights Watch were unprecedented. 

On July 10, Egyptian television presenters on local channels including Faraeen and OnTV began accusing the Syrian community of siding with Morsy supporters, fueling an atmosphere of mistrust and xenophobia, HRW said.

“The Egyptian authorities should uphold their obligations to Syrian asylum seekers under international law,” Houry said. “That starts with ensuring that the security services immediately end their campaign of picking up Syrians on the streets and threatening them with summary deportation.”



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