A group of five NGOs and movements announced their condemnation for legal and humanitarian violations faced by Syrian and Palestinian refugees in Egypt.
The groups which include the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, the Egyptian Centre for Social and Economic Rights and Refugees’ Solidarity Movement released a statement on Friday which read, “The undersigned have monitored the arrests of dozens of Syrian and Palestinian refugees in the Alexandria, Edco, Al-Rahmaniya, and Ismailia police stations, although most of them bear valid residencies.”
While most of the refugees fleeing the Syrian crisis and coming to Egypt are Syrians, there are about 6,000 Palestinians who fled Syria for Egypt.
The groups stated that security forces continue to hold refugees in several police stations such as Karmooz Station in Alexandria in which refugees are being held despite the prosecution’s orders to release them, which is considered “a crime according to Egyptian law.” Some of these refugees have been deported, the statement said.
The Ministry of Interior did not get back to calls for comments in time for publishing.
The groups called on the Ministry of Interior and Homeland Security, previously known as State Security, to release the detained refugees and to stop threatening them with deportation. They added that the public prosecution must use its authority to supervise places of detention and police stations in which the detainees are being held as well as to ensure that its decisions to release detainees are met. The prosecution should also not be complacent when it comes to opening up investigations into the “unlawful” detention of refugees as well as keep in mind their health conditions when their detention puts their lives at risk, the groups said.
Last week, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a 3,750 word report detailing various challenges refugees from Syria face in Egypt, including coerced departures to Syria in some cases and arbitrary detentions. The HRW report said that out of 1,500 refugees from Syria who were detained in Egypt, around 300 remain arbitrarily detained as of 4 November. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded days later with a statement in which it described the report as “wholly inaccurate” and said it deliberately implies that the refugees suffer difficult conditions, describing this as “incorrect.”
While the Egyptian Foreign Ministry says the number of Syrian refugees in Egypt is 300,000, the United Nations High Commissioners for Refugees (UNHCR) said there are over 126,000 persons of concern.
The ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi on 3 July was followed by legal challenges for Syrian refugees in Egypt, requiring them to get security clearances and visas ahead of entering Egypt. It also became harder for refugees already residing in Egypt, since Morsi’s ouster was followed by widely circulating media reports that accused Syrians of siding with the Muslim Brotherhood and taking part in their sit-ins.