Sixteen rights groups have called for the release of Syrian, Palestinian-Syrian and Somali refugees in Egypt who have been “arbitrarily detained” for over 100 days.
The refugees’ detention came as per the Interior Ministry’s orders for their “deportation” despite the general prosecution’s order for their release and the dropping of their charges.
The groups noted in a Monday statement that “their detention contravenes Egyptian Law, while it denies them at the same time the ability to legally challenge their detention”.
The groups include the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, the Palestinian League for Human Rights, the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network, the Center for Refugee Solidarity and the International Refugee Rights Initiative.
The refugees were arrested on 1 November and held in Karmooz Police station in Alexandria after leaving Turkey on a boat to reach Europe. The “mafia of illegal immigration” then forced them to land in Egypt, refugee Mohamed Darwish previously told Daily News Egypt.
The Prosecutor General ordered their release on 5 November.
Another detainee, who spoke to Daily News Egypt, said 73 refugees are currently being held at the police station. He added that at least 50 announced an open hunger strike, though due to deteriorating health condition the number of hunger strikers now has decreased to approximately 10.
He added that despite reiteration of calls for their release, the Egyptian government has not taken any step towards doing so.
The statement added that the lives of the hunger strikers will be subjected “to great risk” if Egyptian authorities continue their arbitrary detention.
The independent Swedish organization, the Center for Refugee Solidarity, reports on the situation of refugees in the Middle East and North Africa and noted that the highest number of refugees in Egypt are Palestinians. Less than 1% receive assistance from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as a result of an Egyptian government policy preventing the UNHCR from registering Palestinian refugees.
The Center noted that following the upheavals witnessed by Egypt in 2013 “an increasing high number of arbitrary arrests and deportation of Syrian nationals have been reported”.