martedì 8 luglio 2008

Eritreans urge AU to stop Egypt, Libya deportations

Mon 7 Jul 2008, 10:44 GMT [-] Text [+] By Tsegaye Tadesse ADDIS ABABA, July 7 (Reuters) - Hundreds of Eritrean refugees marched in Addis Ababa on Monday demanding the African Union (AU) stop Egypt and Libya deporting Eritreans who they said faced possible execution if sent home. Egypt deported up to 1,000 Eritrean asylum seekers last month in its biggest forced return of probable refugees for decades, despite activists' concern they might face torture. Waving Eritrean flags, a group of about 500 Eritrean refugees marched through pouring rain to the Egyptian, Libyan and U.S. embassies in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, headquarters of the African Union. Organisers said they would deliver a petition to the AU Commission chairman Jean Ping. A copy of the petition seen by Reuters said the demonstrators had been told by human rights groups that "within a few days" Libya would also begin the forced deportation of some 500 Eritrean refugees it had detained. "If these Eritreans are returned they will be tortured, sent to prison and some may even be executed," it said. Egypt has harboured tens of thousands of African migrants in its territory, but its attitude changed in recent months after it came under pressure to halt rising numbers of Africans crossing its sensitive border with Israel. At an AU summit in Egypt last week, the head of the U.N. refugee agency said his organisation was having talks with Egyptian authorities about the deportations. Egypt has denied the UNHCR access to detained Eritreans since February, although the agency saw 140 of them following international pressure. UNHCR has asked Egypt for information on the location and fate of 1,400 Eritreans. (Writing by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Bate Felix) (For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit

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