The Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that the recent Human Rights Watch report on refugees from Syria “deliberately implied” that the refugees suffer difficult conditions, describing this as “incorrect.”
On Monday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a 3,750 word report detailing various challenges refugees from Syria face in Egypt, including coerced departures to Syria in some cases and arbitrary detentions. The HRW report said that out of 1,500 refugees from Syria who were detained in Egypt, around 300 remain arbitrarily detained as of 4 November.
The Foreign Ministry’s response, which came two days later, described the content of the report as “wholly inaccurate” and said: “There is absolutely no official state policy dictating the coerced departure of Syrians from Egypt.” The ministry added that no Syrian refugee is made to depart unless it is proven that they have illegally entered Egypt.
Just several days after the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi on 3 July, Egypt required Syrians to get a visa and security clearance before entering Egypt. The Foreign Ministry said in its statement that this is an “exceptional, circumstantial, and temporary decision” which would be reversed when the security situation in the country subsides.
The HRW report addressed the conditions of detainees, specifically those of detained children. The HRW report said over 250 Syrian and Palestinian children were detained since August, “some very young, in overcrowded and unsanitary facilities, without providing for their basic needs.”
HRW urged Egyptian authorities to “separate unaccompanied children from unrelated adults and ensure that conditions of confinement correspond to international standards.”
The foreign ministry meanwhile replied: “It is difficult to separate children from their parents in the period preceding departure. We are currently working on improving detention conditions.”
The foreign ministry stated that the number of Syrians in Egypt is 750,000, more than 320,000 of which are refugees who have arrived since 2011. “It is thus unreasonable to pass judgment on the situation of Syrian refugees in Egypt by shedding light on individual cases with the intention of generalising,” the ministry said.
The foreign ministry added that Syrians are integrated into Egyptian society, which is reflected by the fact that there are no refugee camps in Egypt. It added that the international community must provide economic and humanitarian assistance to countries receiving refugees, as well as participate in the responsibility of receiving the refugees.
The Syrian crisis, which began in March 2011, resulted in over 2.2 million refugees, 800,000 of which reside in Lebanon, which bears the biggest burden in hosting refugees. Turkey and Jordan host over 500,000 each, according to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees figures.