Friday, 15 October 2010

HRW calls on Egypt to stop shooting migrants

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on Egypt to stop shooting foreign migrants who try to cross into Israel. It made its appeal on the day that Egypt became chair of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). HRW, based in New York, said that Egyptian border police have, since July 2007, killed at least 85 migrants trying to cross into Israel; none of them were armed.

"Egypt today becomes chair of the UNHCR's governing body, while back home it shoots unarmed migrants and blocks UNHCR's access to detainees seeking the agency's protection," said Joe Stork, HRW 's director in the Middle East. "To be consistent with its position as the executive committee's new chair, Egypt needs to put its own house in order."

Hisham Badra, Egypt's UN ambassador in Geneva, refuted the allegations. He said that Egypt's border with Israel in the Sinai is a highly dangerous strip of territory used by arms smugglers, human traffickers and terrorists entering or leaving Egypt. "Fourteen Egyptian border guards have been killed in recent years monitoring it," he said.

He said that Egyptian border guards had been given clear instructions not to shoot unless fired on. HRW counters that none of the Africans shot dead was armed or posed any danger to Egyptian border guards. The tough Egyptian line does not appear to have deterred migrants desperate to escape hardship at home. Hardly a week goes by without another incident.

For more news and expert analysis about Egypt, please see Egypt Politics & Security.

© 2010 Menas Associates

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