Concerns for refugees from Eritrea


Christian Solidarity Worldwide has received alarming reports of the abductions of six Eritrean women in Cairo.

The women were reportedly abducted in the Egyptian capital by men purporting to be police officers.

The women, aged between 20 and 32, claim to have travelled in a white taxi that was stopped by men in police uniforms, who opened the vehicle and sprayed an unknown substance into their faces that caused them to lose consciousness. When they awoke, they were in an unfamiliar location.

One woman reported being abducted on her way to church and being held for around three weeks. She said that upon regaining consciousness, she was in a small room with the other five women who had also been abducted from the streets of Cairo.

Three had reportedly already been there for three months and two allegedly paid $5,000 for their release without success.

The women reported having to wear burkhas and being told that they would be released if they converted to Islam.

Four women were able to escape by causing a commotion as their abductors took them by car to another location. The other two women remain unaccounted for.

According to CSW, the reports are further evidence of the insecurity and vulnerability of Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers in Egypt.

It warned that some Eritrean refugees were being detained in Egyptian prisons where they face abuse, the threat of return to their home country, and are denied access to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Elsewhere, there are reports of Eritrean refugees being kidnapped in the Sinai Desert and Sudan, and even tortured in order to extract exorbitant ransoms from friends and family for their release.

CSW’s Advocacy Director, Andrew Johnston said, “It is appalling that in the 21st Century, people in search of refuge from their own tyrannical government are being bought and sold like a commodity by criminal syndicates in an illegal trade centred on, but by no means limited, to the Sinai Desert.

“Seen in this light, the recent abductions are particularly worrying, because such abuse has never before been reported in Cairo, a development that may be fuelled in part by the impunity surrounding the abuse of Eritreans in the Sinai.

“We urge current and future Egyptian authorities to take effective action to end human trafficking within their borders.

“This crime disproportionately affects this community of refugees, and has implications for security not only within Egypt, but also beyond her borders.”

Source:  Christian Today, International Christian Concern

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