An investigation by Sara Creta and Nour Khalil prepared and published in collaboration between the Refugees Platform in Egypt (RPE) & The New Humanitarian (25 April, 2024)

“Thousands of Sudanese refugees who escaped to neighbouring Egypt have been detained by Egyptian authorities in a network of secret military bases, and then deported back to their war-torn country often without the chance to claim asylum, an investigation by The New Humanitarian and the Refugees Platform in Egypt has found.

The pushbacks uncovered by reporters contravene refugee conventions that Egypt has ratified, and are being carried out as the EU has pledged billions of dollars to Cairo in exchange for the government curtailing migration to Europe, a deal that critics say could make European countries complicit in the abuses taking place.

The pushbacks are also being enforced amid a worsening of the year-long war between the Sudanese army and its former ally, the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). The fighting is expanding into new parts of the country, leaving tens of thousands of people dead, and triggering warnings of a looming famine.

A composite photo showing a satellite image of a military camp where refugees are being detained, and a smuggling vehicle (obtained from social media but with credit removed for security reasons) used by refugees crossing the desert (RPE)

Egyptian abuses against Sudanese refugees

  • Egyptian authorities are conducting mass deportations of Sudanese refugees fleeing a war zone and one of the world’s worst humanitarian emergencies.
  • Children, elderly people, and refugees who suffered serious injuries during their journeys into Egypt are among those deported.
  • Some refugees said they had been shot at by Egyptian border guards and that their smugglers had been tortured.
  • Refugees detained in military-controlled areas are being rapidly deported by border guard forces without any legal process. Other refugees are being arrested and accused of spurious offences, including smuggling.
  • Refugees are being kept in a network of secret military bases that lawyers said have no legal mandate to detain people.
  • Refugees said they face dire humanitarian conditions inside the military bases, and have no access to lawyers or UNHCR workers.”

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