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UNHCR Given More Time to Interview Sudanese in Cairo

The UN refugee agency is continuing to interview hundreds of Sudanese in Cairo. The agency is trying to determine which of them are legitimate refugees – and keep them from being deported.

Over 600 Sudanese had been detained following clashes with police in late December. The violence followed a three-month sit-in protest at a Cairo park protesting living conditions. At least 27 people were killed. The UNHCR began interviewing the Sudanese last week looking for asylum seekers.

Astrid Van Genderin Stort is a spokesperson for the UN agency. From Cairo, she spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua.

“We found out some initial information, but we did not have enough time to do all our work properly. So we asked for an extension from the Egyptian government and we have been given this extension. We have one week more to do our work. It still probably won’t be enough, but at least it will give us more time to get more background information and do reasonably proper determination of the status of all the people there,” she says.

Van Genderin Stort adds, “Obviously, there were different kinds of people in the prison. I mean some people are very clear, straightforward cases. They are registered with UNHCR. They are in our database and we can verify that. We have all the details, their photos. So, these are just people who lost their documents…But there are other people that are a little bit less straightforward. Some who arrived in Egypt recently and didn’t have a chance to register yet. Some from Darfur that should have been registered with us. Others are closed files and we have to assess whether these people have valid new arguments, which will allow us to open their files again or not.”

The UNHCR continues to provide emergency supplies to the Sudanese in Cairo.