Eritrean Asylum Seekers in Egypt and Libya

Under Unwarranted Threat of Forced Deportation

By ELF-RC Office for Information and Culture


ELF-RC sources in Cairo just informed that 252 Eritreans in different jails in Egypt are being told that they will be sent back to Eritrea where they will imminently face torture and risks to their lives, as happened to many forcedly returned asylum seekers before them.

The sources in Cairo listed the numbers and the locations of the detained Eritreans: 74 (52 males and 22 females) are detained at Qenatir; 130 males in Alexandria; 24 males in Cairo (Bablkhel-Istinaf); and 24, including mothers and 4 babies, in Ismailia.

It was also reported that a large number of Eritrean asylum seekers in Libya are under the threat of deportation alongside the million or so “migrants” in that country. Human Rights Watch said that the Libya decision will, if implemented, put to high risk asylum seekers coming from places like Eritrea confirming that Eritreans have “a legitimate claim for asylum” and protection from persecution and abuse of human rights.

It is estimated that there are no less than 600 Eritrean asylum seekers stranded in Libya, most of them held at known detention camps.

“A mass deportation from Libya would put an untold number of people at risk of serious harm,” said Bill Frelick, director of Human Rights Watch’s Refugee Policy Program. “This sweeping policy, with no chance for bona fide asylum seekers to get protection, violates the fundamental principles of refugee law.” It is said that Libya has no law or procedures in place for asylum seekers, but its constitutional law prohibits the extradition of “political refugees.”

Newsmen stationed in the region reported that “of particular concern are mass returns to Eritrea, where the government has detained and possibly tortured returnees from Libya. In one case, in 2004, Eritreans being forcibly returned from Libya hijacked their plane en route and forced it to land in Sudan, where UNHCR recognized 60 of the deportees as refugees.”

Mr Frelick was further quoted to have said: “Europe is fixated on blocking people from getting to its borders, without adequate regard for these people’s protection needs.”

Under this circumstances, the ELF-RC, one of the leading political opposition organizations struggling for change and democratization in Eritrea appeals to Libyan and Egyptian authorities to reconsider this decision which will put many Eritreans to high risk when forcedly returned to the cruel dictatorial regime in Asmara.


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