Egypt must not deport Eritrean migrants without UN access: HRW
Egypt must not deport dozens of Eritrean asylum seekers without allowing the U.N. refugee agency opportunity to assess their claims, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Saturday.
The rights group said Egypt was holding around 98 Eritrean migrants in a detention centre in Sinai, and the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has not been granted access to them.
However, Egypt has allowed officials from Eritrea's embassy in Cairo to visit the migrants to prepare paperwork in preparation for their deportation, HRW said.
The migrants could face torture if forced to return to Eritrea, as Asmara regards people who flee the country as having "betrayed" Eritrea, the statement added.
"It is outrageous for the Egyptian authorities to give Eritrean embassy officials access to their nationals who may fear persecution at the hands this government while barring the U.N. agency that should review their asylum claims," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at HRW.
UNHCR could not be reached for comment.
HRW said the migrants should have been given the opportunity to seek asylum with the relevant refugee authorities before deportation procedures were begun.
Egypt cracked down in June, with mass deportations of hundreds of Eritrean asylum seekers, the largest such deportation in decades. Egyptian police have also shot dead 28 African migrants at the Israel border this year.
Reuters Last Mod: 21 Aralık 2008, 16:11