Urgent Warning: Eight Eritrean asylum seekers face forcible deportation from Egypt

Photo: African asylum seekers detained near the border fence with the besieged Gaza Strip. Nir Elias/Reuters Archive ©

The Refugees Platform in Egypt – RPE calls on the Egyptian authorities to stop the implementation of an imminent deportation process, as informed sources told RPE that eight Eritrean asylum seekers have been transferred from their detention centre to conduct a Coronavirus test in preparation for their forcible deportation to Asmara. According to the sources, the eight will be deported today. 

The eight asylum seekers were detained for periods ranging between one year and three months, during which they were prevented from their basic rights and from accessing the registration of asylum applications with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Egypt.

RPE senses a grave danger to these eight asylum seekers in the event of their forcible deportation, as they will face a horrific fate, recalling that the Egyptian authorities have carried out five forcible returns over the past months of at least 70 Eritrean refugees, including children, and they have all disappeared since their deportation to Asmara, and their families have not known anything about them.

This comes after a group of special rapporteurs and experts of the United Nations Human Rights Council in April 2022 condemned the Egyptian authorities for the forced deportation of Eritrean asylum seekers and stressed that “Collective expulsion is prohibited under international human rights law. Patterns of human rights violations against Eritreans who have been forcibly returned, including torture, ill-treatment, enforced disappearance, trafficking in persons and arbitrary detention have been well documented by UN human rights mechanisms,” they said.  “These expulsions also violate the principle of non-refoulement”.  UN experts expressed their “grave concern at what is shaping up to be a policy of arbitrary and collective expulsion of Eritreans, and cautioned the Egyptian authorities that such deportations violate Egypt’s obligations under international law.”

United Nations human rights experts said that “The Egyptian authorities must stop sending Eritrean men, women and children back to danger, and instead grant them protection in line with Egypt’s international commitments.”

In January 2022, Human Rights Watch addressed the Egyptian authorities with the “Refugees Platform in Egypt” in a statement to stop the forced deportations, saying: “The summary deportations of Eritrean asylum seekers violate the international legal prohibition on refoulement, or forced return to a country where people may face threats to their lives or freedom, torture, or other serious harm.”

At that time, Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said “By arbitrarily detaining people in need of protection and preventing them from seeking asylum, the Egyptian government is violating its international legal obligations,” also stating, “Egypt should protect asylum seekers rather than forcibly deporting them to risk of grave harm.”

The Refugees Platform in Egypt calls on the Egyptian authorities to stop the forced deportations and illegal and unjustified detention of asylum seekers. We also urge the Egyptian detention authorities to enable detained asylum seekers to access the asylum procedures of the UNHCR in Egypt, and we call on the Egyptian authorities to investigate past forcible returns and announce the results of this investigation.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Dear users of the Refugee platform in Egypt, we are pleased to keep you informed of all important updates related to daily news, services, procedures, issues and reports. So that you can interact with them through your platforms on social media. If you wish to subscribe to our newsletter and see all that is new, register now.