Dreams of living abroad broken as Sudanese migrants’ protest fails | VailDaily.com

Dreams of living abroad broken as Sudanese migrants’ protest fails

CAIRO, Egypt – More than half the Sudanese migrants who were violently removed from a Cairo protest camp will be deported by ship to their homeland, Egyptian authorities said Tuesday.Human rights organizations have roundly condemned last week’s riot police operation, in which at least 27 people died.On Tuesday, the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees expressed surprised about the deportation order and demanded a clarification from Egyptian authorities.”We were given assurances they (authorities) would not” deport them “as of this point in time,” said UNHCR spokeswoman Astrid van Genderen Stort.But Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Fatma el-Zahraa Etman told The Associated Press that 654 Sudanese would be sent home because “they were either found to be illegal immigrants or refugees who had violated security conditions.” Egyptian law bans sit-ins and demonstrations unless previously approved by the Interior Ministry.Cabinet spokesman Magdy Rady said those detained after the brutal clearing of the square were held for “vetting” to see who had a right to remain in Egypt and that it was the government’s policy to deport those without valid documents.The migrants do not want to return to Sudan. But the UNHCR has ruled that many of them do not qualify for resettlement because the war in southern Sudan has ended.The crisis began Sept. 29, when the migrants established a camp in a tiny Cairo park in an upscale neighborhood to protest what they saw as a failure by the UNHCR to help resettle them. It came to a head before dawn Friday, when police evicted more than 1,000 of them from the site.Afterward, they were kept in detention camps in or near the Egyptian capital. Those not slated for deportation were released Monday.The Egyptian government has blamed the migrants for refusing orders to leave the park.The Interior Ministry has said just 12 of the Sudanese squatters were killed in the melee, in which police also doused the protesters with water cannons. The ministry claimed the victims died when they stampeded. It said more than 70 police were wounded.Security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters, have said, however, that the death toll was 25.On Tuesday, Astrid van Genderen Stort, spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees, told The Associated Press that morgue officials now report 27 dead. Boutros Deng, a protest leader, has said seven children were among the dead.At a news conference earlier Tuesday, van Genderen Stort described the deaths as “very sad” but declined to blame the police.”We are not blaming anyone,” van Genderen Stort said. The police operation “went as it went and it ended in a tragic way. It is very sad that so many people had to die and get injured from both sides,” she said.”We urged the police to deal with the situation in a peaceful manner,” van Genderen Stort said.The Egyptian government has claimed the UNHCR asked authorities to bring the protest to an end. Reporters who were at the police operation saw riot police wade into the crowded camp swinging truncheons and beating the refugees.The UNHCR has said the Sudanese threatened some of its workers when the migrants were not granted official status as refugees, which would have allowed them to be resettled in the United States, Canada and Australia.Van Genderen Stort said the migrants had rejected compromises offered by the UNHCR and Egyptian authorities, including a one-time stipend for housing costs.”There was a dream in their heads to go to another country … and that was impossible,” she said. “They just wanted to hear about resettlement.”Asked about the fate of those who have been released, van Genderen Stort said they should simply carry on with their lives and that the UNHCR would continue to provide them with basic health care and education for children.Vail, Colorado

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