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UNHCR  Searches for Asylum Seekers Among 600 Detained Sudanese in Egypt

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, is interviewing hundreds of Sudanese being held in detention centers near Cairo. They’ve been detained since last week, when their three-month protest in a Cairo park ended in clashes with police. At least 27 people were killed and others injured.

Ron Redmond is a spokesman for the UNHCR. From Geneva, he spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the agency’s efforts in Egypt.

He says, “They (Sudanese) are being held in three detention centers around Cairo. There are indications from the Egyptians that they intend to deport at least some of these people. UNHCR has asked for access to all of them to ensure their legal status is not being violated and to try to determine their possible need for international protection. UNHCR issues identity cards, for example, to Sudanese in Egypt who may be in need of protection, who either may be asylum seekers or refugees. And we want to be sure none of these people have that status. For example, some of them may have lost their identity cards during the chaos last week. And so we just want to guard against that.”

If asylum seekers are found among the more than 600 Sudanese, Mr. Redmond says, “We would advise Egyptian authorities that these people should not be deported back to Sudan. And already the Egyptians have released hundreds of people. We don’t know exactly how many, but hundreds of people who do have UNHCR identity cards.”

The UNHCR interviews are scheduled to end Saturday.