Between January and September 2013, an estimated 6,000 refugees from Syria have managed to reach Italy by sea from Egypt, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN refugee agency. UNCHR has documented a particularly sharp increase in the last few months, with over 3,000 new refugees from Syria arriving by boat in Italy from Egypt since August.
Amnesty International has been monitoring the situation for refugees from Syria since early 2013. Since July, the organization has interviewed dozens of refugees from Syria including Syrian and Palestinian refugees. During a visit to Egypt between 7 and 11 October, Amnesty International met with refugees in Cairo and Alexandria, activists and lawyers working with refugees from Syria, the UNHCR office in Cairo, and civil society organizations. It also visited the 2nd Montaza police station, one of the locations where refugees are detained.
This report focuses on the arrest, detention and deportation of refugees from Syria in Egypt, particularly following recent incidents in which boats leaving for Europe have been intercepted by the Egyptian authorities off the Egyptian Mediterranean coast. Amnesty International is calling on the Egyptian authorities to immediately halt the unlawful detention and deportation of refugees from Syria who have sought safety on their territory and fulfill their obligations under international law to protect them. Amnesty International is also urgently calling on the international community to resettle refugees, including those unlawfully detained in Egypt after attempting to reach Europe and those who have been forcibly separated from their families due to forced deportations.