ALRAY - Egypt has detained over 1,500 refugees from Syria, including at least 400 Palestinians and 250 children as young as two months old, for weeks and sometimes months, Human Rights Watch(HRW) reported on Monday.
Security officials have acknowledged that the refugees will be held indefinitely until they leave the country.
The report noted that Palestinian refugees from Syria are especially vulnerable because Egyptian policy prevents them from seeking protection from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), contrary to UNHCR’s mandate under the 1951 Refugee Convention.
Egyptian authorities tell detained Palestinians that their only alternative to indefinite detention is to go to Lebanon, where they are only permitted to legally enter on a 48-hour transit visa, or to return to war-torn Syria.
“Egypt is leaving hundreds of Palestinians from Syria with no protection from Syria’s killing fields except indefinite detention in miserable conditions,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director.
“Egypt should immediately release those being held and allow UNHCR to give them the protection they are due under international law,” he added.
The report recommended that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who currently in Cairo, should seize the opportunity to insist upon the immediate release of detained refugees.