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HRW report on migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers in Egypt and Israel

Human Rights Watch publicou onte un informe sobre as violacións dos Direitos Humanos que sofren os refuxiados e outros migrantes de Eritrea, Somalia e Sudán que, ó non encontrar axuda en Exipto, intentan cruza-la fronteira deste país con Israel. O informe leva por título “Sinai Perils: Risks to Migrants, Refugees, and Asylum Seekers in Egypt and Israel”. Copio un extracto da súa introducción:

Since 2006, over 13,000 refugees, asylum seekers, and other migrants have passed through Egypt and crossed the Sinai border into Israel. The majority arrived in Israel since 2007; at times, in early 2008, over 100 people per night reportedly crossed the border.

Both Egypt and Israel have responded to this cross-border flow with policies that violate fundamental rights. These violations, particularly on the Egyptian side, have become more numerous and more acute over the past year. In August 2007, Egyptian border police shot and beat to death four people trying to cross from Egypt into Israel, according to Israeli soldiers who said they witnessed the killings. The Israeli soldiers, who believed the migrants were Sudanese, were close enough to hear the migrants “screeching in pain until they died,” one soldier said. Egyptian border police have killed at least 33 migrants and wounded dozens more attempting to cross into Israel since the first known fatality, a pregnant Darfuri woman, died in June 2007.

Egypt has also returned Eritrean and Sudanese nationals to their home countries, where they could face persecution and a substantial risk of torture, without allowing them to claim asylum or despite their asylum status. Beginning in February 2008, Egypt refused to allow United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) access to Eritreans in detention, many of whom military tribunals had sentenced to between one and three years in prison for illegally entering the country from Sudan. Over one week in June Egypt forcibly returned up to 1,200 of these detainees —of a total of approximately 1,400— to Eritrea, and the Eritrean government reportedly detained 740 of the returnees. In mid-April Egypt deported 49 Southern Sudanese men, at least 11 of whom were asylum seekers or refugees, to Juba, Southern Sudan.

Despite Israeli officials’ awareness of Egypt’s violations, Israel has summarily returned to Egyptian custody scores of migrants who illegally crossed the Sinai border. In August 2007, Israeli soldiers forcibly returned a group of 48 detained migrants, 44 of them Sudanese, back across the border without allowing them to claim asylum. Israeli officials said the Egyptian government agreed to the returns and gave assurances that the returnees would not be mistreated, but Egypt had previously, publicly denied any such agreement. The returns also disregarded a petition by Israeli parliamentarians, calling on the government not to carry out announced plans to return to Egypt captured migrants. Egypt detained and denied all access to the 48 people, 23 of whom were refugees or asylum seekers. According to media accounts, Egypt subsequently deported between at least five and possibly as many as 20 of the group to Sudan, whence many had originally fled seeking refuge.

Between August 23 and 29, 2008, Israeli soldiers forcibly returned another 91 migrants to Egypt, including Eritreans, Sudanese, and Somalis, without allowing them to present asylum claims. An Israel Defense Forces (IDF) brigadier general stated in an affidavit that “officers in the field” had failed to follow procedures in carrying out the returns, but an IDF spokesman said the returns were ordered by the “political echelon.” The whereabouts of the 91 returnees, like the fates of the 48 returnees from August 2007, are unknown.

Both countries have detained migrants for long periods without allowing them to make asylum claims. Both countries are states parties to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, and as such should not punish refugees fleeing from persecution. Guidelines by the UNHCR state that detention of asylum seekers should be used only as a last resort.

The majority of those who cross the Sinai to enter Israel are Eritreans and Sudanese. Many of the approximately 4,300 Eritreans who have sought asylum in Israel since 2006, fleeing forcible military conscription or religious persecution, traveled illegally through Sudan and Egypt. Many of the 3,700 Sudanese who sought asylum in Israel, including Southern Sudanese and Darfuris, lived in Egypt as refugees or asylum seekers for years before security problems and harsh living conditions there led them to risk the illegal Sinai border crossing. […]


13 Novembro 2008 - Posted by | Egypt, Eritrea, Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, Israel, Politics, Somalia, Sudan

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