(Cairo 12-05-2011) Eritrean refugees in Egypt continue to face major obstacles according to reports from Release Eritrea volunteers in the region. The volunteers who have been working to support Eritrean immigration detainees report that,  in the weeks since the revolution in Egypt, little has changed for the better for the Eritrean asylum seekers and refugees currently there. Many remain in the hands, and at the mercy, of the human traffickers, and since the revolution, neither the army nor the police are making much of an effort to curb their activities. The military in Sinai, where the traffickers' camps are located, are stretched beyond their capacity and are not targeting the traffickers nor seeking to locate and close their illegal camps, as they simply try to protect the tourist resorts of Sharm-el-Sheikh and others.

The Bedouins of Sinai, many of whom are the human traffickers, have set up their own checkpoints on the main roads through Sinai. During the throes of the revolution, they attacked and completely destroyed police stations in the northern regions of El Arish, Raffa and Nakel. They were completely unhindered, stealing weapons and taking revenge on the police. It is feared they also kidnapped many African migrants, mostly Eritreans, who were held in the police stations having been caught trying to enter Israel. How many of these had already been in the hands of the traffickers, had paid the ransom and been released, only to be arrested by the Egyptian police and then re-kidnapped by the traffickers, is not known.

In recent days, five Eritreans have been shot by the Egyptian border guards on the border with Israel. They managed to cross the border despite their wounds, but later died in Israel of their injuries, reports coming from Israel confirm. Prior to that, a couple of weeks ago, another five men were shot on the border – two died and three were wounded. The current condition of the three wounded men in not known, and it is unlikely they have received the treatment they need.

There are many hundreds of Eritreans still held in Egyptian prisons and police stations. For the most part they are not treated well, beatings by the guards are common. The conditions within the cells are atrocious. They are vastly overcrowded, filthy, with little access to basic human necessities, such as toilet facilities. Food is scarce and poor; most of the prisoners are malnourished and many are suffering from various ailments and illnesses related to poor nutrition and hygiene. Two months ago, a young Eritrean man in his early twenties, suffering with adult-onset diabetes, died in prison as a direct result of his untreated diabetes, despite it being known to the prison authorities. Just last week, a young Eritrean man in his early twenties died in prison in Ismaeleya; the cause of his death is not yet known.

In other news, the Egyptian media website Ma'an News is today reporting that a group of international smugglers in Sinai threw the body of a foreign national in front of the Rafah Hospital on Wednesday night.  Nurses at the hospital said they found no identity papers on the man, who they estimated to be 30-years old, and said was likely from an African nation.


Concerns for Christian prisoners in Egypt

(Cairo, 12-05- 2011) -News is coming out of El Kata prison, about an hour's drive from Cairo, Egypt, of unrest inside the prison.  It is reported that all the Christian prisoners have been rounded up and put in one room by Islamic extremist prisoners.  The authorities have been contacted and told if they don't release the Islamic extremists from the prison, they will start to kill the Christians, one by one.  It is currently not known how many Christian prisoners are being held in El Kata prison, although it is understood that some are Eritreans and Ethiopians.  It is also not known how the prison authorities have allowed this to happen.  They are apparently still in control of the prison from the outside but are afraid to enter at the present time.


Release Eritrea is a charity based in the UK. For further information please contact Million Joseph, Release-Eritrea’s advocacy officer on:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.