Amnesty International has slammed Egypt for unlawfully arresting and deporting hundreds of Syrian refugees, many of them women and children.
Sherif Elsayed Ali, Amnesty’s head of refugee and migrants’ rights said in a statement released on Thursday, “Instead of offering vital help and support to refugees from Syria, the Egyptian authorities are arresting and deporting them, flouting human rights standards.”
“Most refugees lost their homes and livelihoods when they fled Syria. Failing to help and protect them is a stain on the reputation of Egypt and could seriously damage its image as a key stakeholder in the region,” the Amnesty official stated.
He added that hundreds of Syrian refugees, including children, face continuing detention in poor conditions or expulsion. Cairo is failing “abysmally to meet its international obligations to protect even the most vulnerable refugees.”
The Egyptian navy has intercepted more than ten vessels carrying refugees from Syria in their attempt to get to Europe, the statement said.
In most cases, those refugees arrested in Egypt are being held in detention under orders of the national security agency, even after the public prosecution orders their release.
The Amnesty official also said that the rights organization had discovered 40 Syrian refugees, including ten children, unlawfully and indefinitely detained in Alexandria, during a visit to a police station in the city.
According to lawyers, in at least two instances, refugees from Syria were collectively deported to Damascus from Egypt.
“Egypt should be helping Syrians get back on their feet, not hindering them at every turn,” Sherif Elsayed Ali said.
According to the UN, more than 100,000 people have been killed and millions displaced due to the turmoil that erupted in Syria over two years ago.