Sudanese refugees at risk of forcible return

Sudanese refugees at risk of forcible return

The Egyptian authorities apparently intend to forcibly return Sudanese refugees Mohamed Adam Abdallah and Ishaq Fadl Dafallah to Sudan on 12 April. If returned, they would be in grave danger of being tortured or otherwise ill-treated in Sudan.

Both men were arrested on 4 August 2009 in the town of Sheikh Zuwayid, close to Egypt’s border with Israel, where they said they had gone to provide assistance to Sudanese refugees and asylum-seekers. Hundreds of Sudanese and other asylum-seekers have been arrested in this area and detained in police stations or prisons. The Egyptian authorities say that the two men are suspected of trying to cross the border illegally into Israel. Tens of refugees, migrants and asylum-seekers accused of trying to cross the border into Israel illegally have been tried before military courts and sentenced to one year in prison and to pay a fine of 2,000 Egyptian pounds. Others – at least 19 in 2009 and at least a further 12 since the beginning of this year – have been shot dead by Egyptian border guards.

Neither Mohamed Adam Abdallah nor Ishaq Fadl Dafallah have had any opportunity to consult a lawyer while in detention and to challenge the Egyptian authorities’ decision to deport them to Sudan. Both men are from the Zaghawa ethnic community in Darfur (Sudan), and were recognized as refugees by UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, in Egypt in 2009 because they would face persecution in Sudan if forcibly returned to that country.

On 6 April, Mohamed Adam Abdallah was transferred from Cairo to Aswan Police Station, from where he is expected to be forcibly returned to Sudan by ship on 12 April.

Ishaq Fadl Dafallah is currently at Cairo’s Khalifa Police Station, which is used as a deportation centre, and is also expected to be moved soon to Aswan for forcible return to Sudan on 12 April.

Ishaq Fadl Dafallah is the chairman of the Union of Darfur Associations in Egypt, a NGO which provides assistance to Sudanese refugees from Darfur in Egypt. He is also chairman of the Zaghawa Association in Egypt, to which Mohamed Adam Abdallah also belongs, which provides language and other training for refugees and asylum-seekers in Egypt.

Amnesty International

Republished with permission from Bikya Masr