This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at the press briefing, on 18 October 2011, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
UNHCR condemns the deportation yesterday (Monday) of over 300 Eritrean asylum-seekers and refugees by Sudan.
The asylum-seekers and refugees were convicted on charges of illegal entry and movement within Sudan, under national immigration laws. The group had been detained for the several weeks in Dongola, in Sudan's Northern State bordering Egypt.
The deportation took place despite an agreement between UNHCR and the Sudanese Commissioner for Refugees that the Eritreans would be transferred to Khartoum for joint screening – the aim being to identify people in the group who already had refugee status and to allow others the opportunity to lodge asylum claims.
Such deportations of refugees and asylum-seekers amount to refoulement (forced return) and violate the 1951 UN Refugee Convention as well as the 1974 Sudanese Asylum Act.
UNHCR is concerned that, despite assurances from the authorities, the rights of refugees are not being respected. Sudan has recently repeatedly forced back Eritrean asylum-seekers and refugees to Eritrea, where they risk persecution.
For further information on this topic, please contact:
In Geneva: Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba, +41 79 249 3483