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Amnesty International: Syrian refugees harassed in Egypt

Oct. 17, 2013 at 10:57 AM

CAIRO, Oct. 17 (UPI) -- Egypt is not living up to its obligation to provide safe haven to refugees fleeing civil war in Syria, Amnesty International said Thursday.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees estimates more than 900 Syrian nationals were arrested this year by Egyptian authorities. More than 700 of them remain behind bars.

Sherif el-Sayed Ali, Amnesty International's director of refugee and migrants' rights, said Syrians left their livelihoods behind to flee civil war only to face repression from Egyptian authorities.

"Instead of offering vital help and support to refugees from Syria, the Egyptian authorities are arresting and deporting them, flouting human rights standards," he said Thursday.

In its latest crackdown, AI said the Egyptian military intercepted 13 boats carrying refugees from Syria to Europe. The rights group said it estimates Syrian refugees are paying up to $3,500 each to smugglers in exchange for safe passage to foreign shores.

Several of the refugees interviewed by Amnesty International said they wanted to leave Egypt because of their treatment by authorities.

"At present Egypt is failing abysmally to meet its international obligations to protect even the most vulnerable refugees," Ali said.

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