CAIRO: Human Rights Watch urged Egypt to halt the forced deportation of Eritrean asylum seekers fleeing from military obligations in their home country, it said in a statement released Thursday.
Eritreans are fleeing a repressive government with a terrible human rights record and need protection, not further abuse, said Joe Stork, deputy director of HRW’s Middle East and North Africa division, in the statement. “Instead of forcing them onto flights, Egypt should give UNHCR immediate access to identify Eritrean migrants with refugee claims.
According to research conducted by the UN Higher Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Egypt deported 1,200 Eritreans after crossing the Sudanese border in June 2008 alone. The report added that 740 of that same group were placed in military prisons in Eritrea since December of the same year.
In the statement, HRW condemned Egypt of not abiding by international refugee laws that forbid any country from deporting asylum seekers fleeing persecution in their home country.
Scores of Eritreans trying to escape the military draft are subjected to severe punishment by their government. Eritrean border guards are ordered to shoot and kill anyone they catch trying to cross the border without government consent. Asylum seekers who successfully cross into Sudan or Ethiopia have their families fined and sometimes imprisoned.