Egypt to Deport Eritrean Asylum Seekers Back to Eritrea Where They Could Risk Torture

22 October 2021 | Egyptian authorities have been holding a group of 18 Eritrean asylum-seekers arbitrarily detained in Aluqsur prison on the Red Sea since 2019. The America Team for Displaced Eritreans received news that Egyptian authorities will be sending back eight of the Eritrean asylum seekers on Saturday 23, 2021.

In 2019, Egyptian authorities arrested 10 children and eight adults who fled Eritrea as refugees into Egypt via Sudan. Authorities have been detaining the 18 Eritrean asylum seekers since October 2019.  The UNHCR is not allowed to register refugees who are detained there, so they had no opportunity to register their claims for asylum. They have been held in Aluqsur prison, where they have been suffering from lack of medical attention. 

In August 2021 Egyptian authorities cooperated with the Eritrean government to issue travel documents for the Eritrean asylum seekers, including the children, in order to send them back to Eritrea against their will. As of 20 October 2021, Jubilee Campaign received reports that the Egyptian authorities are planning to send back eight of the asylum seekers to Eritrea on Saturday, 23 October 2021, where they could risk torture or other cruel and degrading treatment.

 The UN Special Rapporteur on Eritrea has been clear that asylum seekers who are returned to Eritrea risk, “severe punishment” if forcibly returned including, “prolonged periods of incommunicado detention, torture and ill-treatment.” If Egypt were to send these asylum seekers back to Eritrea, Egypt would be breaching its international law obligations of non-refoulement.  

Jubilee Campaign calls on the Government of Egypt to honor its international human rights commitments and immediately contact the immigration authorities to ensure the imminent refoulement of the eight Eritrean asylum seekers from Alugusr prison does not take place.

We also urge the authorities to release the 18 asylum seekers and ensure their rights are protected, and their asylum claims promptly tried by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) under the Refugee Convention. 

In September, Jubilee Campaign together with several organisations sent a letter calling on the Ambassador of Egypt to the US to contact immigration authorities to stop the imminent deportation of two Eritrean asylum-seekers who were also going to be refouled. The imminent deportation of these two asylum-seekers was temporarily halted but authorities still continue to detain them. Jubilee Campaign resent the letter to the Egyptian authorities urging them to ensure the release of the two Eritrean asylum seekers noting that, “As long as the asylum seekers remain detained in Al-Qanater prison, the risk that immigration authorities will deport them back to Eritrea in contravention of the jus cogens principle of non-refoulment remains high.”