The Egyptian authorities should not recklessly deny entry to Syrians and must provide anyone fleeing the conflict the opportunity to seek asylum, Amnesty International said today after reports that some 259 people were turned back at Cairo Airport on Monday.
“Given the scale of violence, bloodshed and human rights abuses currently taking place in Syria, it is unthinkable that Egypt should deny Syrians fleeing for their lives safety," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui , Deputy Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa programme.
Syrian nationals arriving on Monday were denied entry to Egypt on the grounds that the passengers had not obtained the newly required visas or security permits. Previously, Syrian nationals did not require visas to enter Egypt.
While the Egyptian authorities can regulate entry to and stay in Egypt, they must do so in full respect of their international human rights and refugee law obligations.
Those sent back include: 95 passengers on a Syrian Airlines flight to Latakia, in Syria; 55 flew MEA back to Beirut; some 25 to Jordan, and six to Abu Dhabi.
Amnesty International understands that UNHCR did not have access to any of them at Cairo airport and it is not known what has happened to those returned to Syria.
Three other Syrians are also being held in limbo at Alexandria Airport, after they were denied re-entrance to Egypt despite having registered in the country with the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR.
A statement on the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website on Monday said that “the decision to impose an entrance visa on Syrian nationals is a decision based on the conditions that Egypt is currently passing through”.
“No one should be forced to return to Syria due to the serious risk of indiscriminate violence and persecution, " said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui. “We urge the authorities to ensure that Egypt continues to be a place of refuge for Syrians even at this turbulent time.”