mercoledì 14 settembre 2011

Appeal for Urgent Intervention to Ensure the Safety of Asylum Seekers in Sinai

Appeal for Urgent Intervention to Ensure the Safety of Asylum Seekers in Sinai
Strengthening the forces of the Egyptian army in the Sinai Peninsula, in coordination with Israel, as well as the violent events which recently took place on the Israel-Egypt border drew the public attention to the security aspect of what is going on in Sinai. However, the subject of the hostage and torture camps, where during the last two years thousands of asylum seekers have been held, has been pushed aside and has not attracted the attention which it deserves.
These asylum seekers, fleeing from dictatorships and countries embroiled in bloody wars, are subject to the control of bands of human smugglers in Sinai. The smugglers hold them hostage until their release against payment of a ransom fee in the sum of tens of thousands of dollars paid by relatives of the hostages. Many testimonies collected in Israel show that while held hostage, the asylum seekers are the victims of different forms of torture including rape, threats of execution and removal of organs, forced labor, being tied up in chains, electric shocks, starvation and water deprivation. Some of those people who manage to survive the hard period of torture and are released from the camps are shot by soldiers of the Egyptian army at the border.
Human rights organizations, including a number of those who have signed this appeal, have published data on the scope of this phenomenon. Reports based on the testimonies of victims of the torture camps in Sinai show that 59% of the people interviewed said that they had been held under close guard and/or were chained to other asylum seekers. 52% of the people interviewed said that they had been subject to severe violence. 15% have scars and signs of violence on their body as a result of torture undergone in Sinai. 44% reported that during their time in Sinai, they had witnessed violence and/or cases of death of other asylum seekers. 88% reported severe lack of food and starvation. 66% reported severe thirst as they were denied water during their captivity

We, human rights organizations, acting for the rights of refugees and asylum seekers, believe that we have a duty of the utmost importance to place the subject of refugees on the public agenda. Without derogating from the duties of the authorities of the State of Israel to treat asylum seekers who reach Israeli territory in a humane manner and to honor the international treaties for protection of the human rights of the refugees, we cannot ignore what happens to those people seeking asylum in Israel on their way to Israel. The  present reality in Sinai and the entry of large forces of the Egyptian army into the peninsula, and all the sensitivities involved therein, constitute an opportunity for positive and necessary action on the subject of the hostage camps, torture and trafficking in Sinai. In light of this, we appeal to the international community to act in cooperation with Israel and Egypt decisively in the present situation for the purpose of placing the subject on the agenda and promoting acts which will put an end to the phenomenon.
We, the undersigned organizations hereby call for the following:
·         To act for the immediate closure of torture camps in Sinai and arrest of the smugglers and their collaborators.
·         To ensure the safety of the refugees presently detained in the Sinai Peninsula.
·         To act in conjunction with the Egyptian army in order to put a stop to the use of shooting at refugees crossing the border between Egypt and Israel.

Physicians for Human Rights- Israel
ASSAF - Aid Organization for Refugees & Asylum Seekers in Israel
The Association For Civil Rights In Israel
ARDC- African Refugee Development Cente
Hotline For Migrant Workers
Agenzia Habeshia per la Cooperazione allo Sviluppo


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