Syrian refugees arrested in Egypt

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Syrian refugees wait to be registered by UNHCR staff in Lebanon.© UNHCR/M.Abu Asaker

At least 85 Syrian refugees have been arrested and detained by the military and security forces in Egypt over the last one month, according to the UN Refugee agency (UNHCR).

Among those arrested are several minors and Syrians registered by the UNHCR in Egypt.

UNHCR says there is a growing anti-Syrian sentiment in Egypt with some of those arrested accused of taking part in protests and violent acts in the aftermath of the ouster of the Muslim brotherhood government.

Melissa Fleming from UNHCR says the hostility towards Syrians was also being perpetuated by some media outlets in Egypt who were broadcasting xenophobic statements.

"We have been requesting access to 85 detained Syrians- those are the ones we know about, and asking for assurances that they are not returned to Syria. We stress that they should be afforded fair and due process of law in Egypt. Egypt was one of the most hospitable countries towards Syrian since the start of the conflict. Over the past couple of years the government has been providing unrestricted visas and residence permits and full access to public services. What they are reporting to us now amid this very frightening climate is that they fear to go out in public for fear of being arrested. We also note that there has been a real surge in the number of Syrian coming forward and registering with UNHCR." 

The Egyptian government estimates the number of Syrian refugees in the country at between 250,000 and 300,000 out of which about 80,000 are registered with UNHCR.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations Radio, Geneva.

Duration 1.45″

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