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Egypt: Eritrean Refugees

Volume 704: debated on Thursday 23 October 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What representations they have made or plan to make to the Government of Egypt about their alleged “refoulement” of Eritrean refugees, the prison conditions under which they were held and the alleged denial of access to the staff of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; whether they will recall Egypt's obligations under the United Nations Conventions on Refugees and against Torture; and whether they will seek assistance from M. Louis Michel, the European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, with both Egypt and Eritrea. [HL4297]

The office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has access to the Eritrean nationals currently in a camp in Aswan. It has received authorisation to resettle all but 11 of the 128 refugees there. The UNHCR does not have access to others, who have been convicted of crimes such as illegally entering Egypt. The decision to repatriate Eritrean prisoners or refugees to Eritrea is governed by Egyptian law and is a decision for the Egyptian authorities. We call on all countries to meet their obligations under UN conventions.

UK officials, working with the EU as appropriate, have a regular dialogue with and actively lobby the Egyptian authorities on a range of human rights issues. On 11 August officials from our embassy in Cairo met the Egyptian Deputy Minister for Human Rights to discuss human rights issues.