Conflict & Justice

Egypt harassing Syrian refugees: Human Rights Watch


Egyptian protesters hold up giant national and Syrian flags during a rally in Tahrir Square on January 25, 2012, on the first anniversary of the country's revolt against the former regime. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI



Human Rights Watch raised concerns Thursday that the new Egyptian government is harassing and threatening to deport Syrian refugees.

Some 90,000 Syrians have sought refuge in Egypt from their civil war, in which 100,000 people have now died.

The New York-based rights group said Egyptian police arrested 72 Syrian men and nine boys on July 19 and 20 alone. The group included registered asylum seekers and men with valid visas or residence permits. At least 14 were threatened with deportation.

Most of the Syrians were pulled off buses and microbuses at checkpoints on Cairo roads by police and military police, Human Rights Watch said.

Since Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was removed from power on July 3, Egypt has turned away hundreds of Syrians arriving without entry permits, Reuters reported. Previously, they had been allowed to enter Egypt without visas.

Egyptian media is contributing to the atmosphere of xenophobia, Human Rights Watch said, with television presenters on local channels including Faraeen and OnTV accusing the Syrian community of supporting the pro-Morsi Muslim Brotherhood.

"A tense political climate is no excuse for police and army officers to pull dozens of Syrian men and boys off of public transport and throw them in jail without regard for their rights," Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said.