The Foreign Ministry said Sunday that efforts are ongoing to aid the return of over 100 Egyptian fishermen who are detained in Sudan, after Sudanese authorities prevented their release.
Ministry spokesperson Badr Abdelatty told Daily News Egypt that the ministry is continuing communications with the Sudanese side to clarify the fishermen’s situation.
The ministry announced on Thursday that “the Sudanese authorities have released 100 fishermen who were detained previously on charges of entering Sudanese territorial waters”.
A statement from the ministry added that the Egyptian embassy in Sudan was responsible for completing the procedures of transporting the fishermen from Sudan back to Egypt on board their fishing boats.
The 101 fishermen, who hailed from Al-Matariya in the Daqahleya governorate, were detained by Sudanese authorities in April. They were on board three fishing boats that were heading to Eritrea, according to the independent fishermen’s association in Al-Matariya.
The fishermen were arrested on grounds of infiltrating Sudanese territorial waters, which the fishermen claim did not happen.
Late on Thursday the fishermen were prevented from leaving the neighbouring country, and were re-detained.
According to the fishermen’s independent association, the Sudanese security authorities appealed the prosecution’s decision to release the fishermen, and the appeal was accepted on the same day. This led to the re-detention of the fishermen.
With the issue ongoing since April, the foreign ministry has been in contact with the Sudanese authorities, and previously promised a resolution of the situation. However, the numerous promises are yet to yield results.
In June, the fishermen’s relatives demanded, in a press conference, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s “immediate intervention to do what is needed to release those poor fishermen and get them back home”.
The situation of the detained fishermen in Sudan is not the only one of its kind; during a meeting between Abdelatty and Head of the Fishermen’s Syndicate Ahmed Nassar, the status of detained fishermen in Libya and Tunisia was also discussed.
Nassar requested that the ministry intervene to help release a fishing boat named ‘Hadj Galal’, which is currently held in Tunisia, and the boat ‘Princess Mona’ that is under Libyan custody.
Following the meeting, the syndicate head told Daily News Egypt that ‘Hadj Galal’ was seized in the Tunisian city of Sfax during Eid Al-Fitr. A total of 17 fishermen were detained alongside the boat’s seizure, and were charged with unlicensed fishing inside Tunisian territorial waters.
“The other fishing boat was detained a few days before Ramadan [mid-June] and one of the fishermen was shot dead,” Nassar said.
He added that 15 fishermen from the ‘Princess Mona’ boat are now detained in the Libyan city of Misrata on the same charges.
Abdelatty said the ministry had issued numerous statements warning against entering and fishing in the territorial waters of neighbouring countries.