[JURIST] Amnesty International [advocacy website] Friday condemned [press release] Egypt for plans to deport approximately 1,200 detained Eritrean refugees despite the possibility that they may face torture in their home country. The group called for Egypt to allow the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) [official website] to communicate with the refugees to investigate their claims for asylum; UNHCR said that the agency had been blocked from contacting the refugees, most of whom are escaping religious persecution or a military draft, since February. UNHCR could not confirm Amnesty reports that 400 refugees had already been deported in the last week, but said that such action would have violated a UN advisory against returning asylum seekers to Eritrea. Reuters has more.
In January, the Egyptian government said that it would not deport hundreds of Sudanese detainees who lack status as refugees or asylum seekers. The detainees were arrested after a three-month sit-in protest in front of UN offices in Cairo resulted in a violent clash with Egyptian police on December 30, resulting in 27 deaths [BBC report]. The Sudanese protesters sought resettlement in a third country. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs [official website, English version] has said that following extensive interviews [press release] with the detainees by the UNHCR, none will be deported to Sudan, and that Egypt [JURIST news archive] will take steps to grant legal status to those who do not qualify for international protection.