Working in coordination with journalists and NGO partners in North Africa, we launched a multi-pronged awareness campaign about the plight of Eritrean refugees—including children and families—detained in Egypt’s abysmal police detention centres.
Egypt has repeatedly deported refugees back to Eritrea despite the fact that many have disappeared upon arrival or suffered severe abuses or torture. Based on information from our partners, the GDP began in September posting messages on Twitter, publishing reports on our website, and reaching out to contacts in the international community to provide updates on the situation of Eritreans facing imminent deportation, which included photos we had received that were taken by detainees. We also tagged the Twitter accounts of Egyptian ministries as well as of various key actors, including regional offi ces of UNHCR and IOM.
As the deportations continued unabated, we issued a series of urgent appeals—in November and December—to UN agencies, which complemented efforts in Egypt by civil society groups, foreign embassies, and UN agencies. In late November, a group of UN Special Procedures, including the WGAD and the SR on the human rights of migrants, issued a letter to Egypt expressing their “grave concern” about the situation and underscoring the human rights violations of their arbitrary detention and forced deportation. Sadly, while the pressure campaign appears to have led to some delays in deportations, Egypt has pressed ahead with them—including deporting children—into 2022.