The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) called on the Egyptian government to take swift measures to ease the concerns of Syrian refugees and their fear of deportation.
In a statement released on Sunday, ANHRI stated it is the government’s role to provide Syrian refugees with a safe haven by facilitating the process of granting residence permits. ANHRI also called on the government to put humanitarian considerations above any political tensions which were not caused by the refugees themselves.
At least 44 Syrians were arrested at security checkpoint near 10th of Ramadan city, alongside two Bengali refugees on Saturday, state-run Al-Ahram reported. They were arrested for not possessing valid residence papers or passports and are scheduled to be deported.
Military spokesman Ahmed Ali’s office denied any mass arrests of Syrians at a security checkpoint within the past 72 hours and a source within the Ministry of Interior’s media office said the ministry has no information about the arrests. He added that Syrians are generally arrested for lack of proper residence permits, for being charged with a crime or for taking part in a protest.
Egyptian authorities called on Syrians and other Arab nationals residing in Egypt to refrain from taking part in protests.
On Friday, security forces arrested six Syrians and one Palestinian from among pro-Morsi protesters during clashes that occurred after noon prayers at Al-Azhar Mosque.
Mohamed Farouk, a lawyer who works with ANHRI on aiding arrested Syrian refugees, stated most Syrians living in Egypt have a tourist visa; which is valid for three months and can only be extended once. They cannot obtain a working visa if they don’t have a clearly registered job.
Syrian refugees can be allowed to live in Egypt without a visa if they have a yellow card from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which identifies them as refugees seeking asylum and thus grants them more privileges.
Mohamed Al-Hariri, a Syrian director residing in Egypt, was arrested on Wednesday and threatened with deportation for not possessing a valid visa, but was released on Friday following intervention by ANHRI.
Egyptian authorities recently set new entry requirements for Syrian refugees, who must now have an Egyptian entry visa upon arrival. Previously, Syrians could enter the country with their passports alone.
Nine human rights organisations issued a statement last week condemning “hate speech” from local media outlets against Syrian and Palestinian refugees in Egypt, describing it as “irresponsible” and as an “incitement that threatens more than 200,000 Syrian refugees living in Egypt under unenviable circumstances.”
The UNHCR also released a statement expressing its concern about new visa requirements for Syrians seeking refuge in Egypt.
Additional reporting by Nouran El-Behairy