World Bulletin / News Desk
Thirty-two Syrian and Palestinian refugees in Egypt maintained their hunger strike for the fifth day on Wednesday to protest a recent decision to deport them for attempting to illegally immigrate to Europe.
The refugees, who launched their hunger strike last Saturday in Egypt's northern Beheira province, were arrested while trying to set sail from Egypt in a fishing boat. After being released by Egyptian authorities, the refugees – half of whom are children – were slapped with deportation orders.
They are currently staging a sit-in outside a local Beheira police station, calling on Egyptian authorities to either allow them to stay in the country or seek asylum in Europe, a security source said.
Egyptian officials were not available to comment on the issue.
It is the second hunger strike to be staged by Syrian and Palestinian refugees inside one week.
On Saturday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that around 50 detained Syrian and Palestinian refugees had launched a hunger strike to protest their ongoing detention in Egypt.
The London-based rights group quoted a UN official as saying that hunger-striking refugees were being held in the coastal city of Alexandria.
The refugees in Beheira, who are living in tents set up outside the police station in the city of Idko, refuse to accept meals offered by employees of the UN refugee agency, the security source said.
According to the source, another 300 Syrian and Palestinian refugees are also staying in tents in the Beheira cities of Shubra Kheit and Al-Rahmania.
He said these refugees, too, had been arrested while trying to illegally travel to Europe, noting that authorities had since ordered their release.
In recent months, scores of Syrians and Palestinians have been arrested while trying to "illegally" immigrate to Europe from Egypt. Many of them have since been deported – some of them back to their native Syria.
Around 320,000 Syrians currently live in Egypt after fleeing the bloody conflict in their homeland, according to unofficial figures.
But Dams al-Kelani, coordinator of the Syrian Revolution Coordination Committee, says the number is closer to one million.Last Mod: 27 Kasım 2013, 15:48