Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Egypt: Do Not Return Asylum Seekers to Syria

Syrians Summarily Returned; Registered Asylum Seekers Denied Reentry

July 10, 2013

"(New York) – Egypt should allow those fleeing Syria full access to the UN refugee agency to have their asylum claims properly examined, and should also allow Syrians already registered with the UN body to reenter the country after periods abroad, Human Rights Watch said today.

Without prior warning, on July 8, the Egyptian government changed its entry policy for Syrians arriving in Egypt by requiring them to obtain a visa and security clearance before arriving in the country. According to media reports, on the same day Egypt denied entry to 276 people arriving from Syria, including a plane with Syrian nationals on board, who were then flown back to the Syrian town of Latakia. The new policy has also left several Syrians stranded in Alexandria’s international airport, including at least three people already registered as asylum seekers with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Egypt, who say the authorities plan to return them to the countries from which they arrived.

Egypt may be going through tumultuous times, but it must not return anyone, including Syrians, to somewhere threatening their life or freedom,” said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “While the Egyptian government can require foreign nationals to obtain visas before arriving in Egypt, it must properly protect them. Egypt should continue to allow those fleeing from Syria to lodge asylum claims with UNHCR and receive protection.”......"

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