Human Rights Watch (HRW) criticized today Egypt’s change in immigration policy regarding Syrian refugees entering the country.
On 8 July and without prior warning the Egyptian government introduced a new entry policy for Syrian nationals requiring them to obtain a visa and security clearance before arriving in Egypt.
The new policy coincided with media reports that Syrian nationals had taken part in violent protests on the side of supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi.
HRW states that two Syrians have been trapped at Alexandria International Airport since 8 July, despite being registered as asylum seekers with the UNHCR in Egypt, including one woman who had been in Egypt for six months before travelling to Jordan to renew her passport. They were denied entry upon return to Alexandria.
Al-Ahram Online reported Tuesday that 276 Syrians had been deported from Cairo International Airport pursuant to the new regulations.
“Egypt may be going through tumultuous times, but it must not return anyone, including Syrians, to somewhere threatening their life or freedom,” said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.
“While the Egyptian government can require foreign nationals to obtain visas before arriving in Egypt, it must properly protect them. Egypt should continue to allow those fleeing from Syria to lodge asylum claims with UNHCR and receive protection,” he said.
These measures also have an impact on Palestinian residents of Gaza.
Electronic Intifada reported Tuesday that the Egyptian authorities have instructed international airlines not to allow Palestinian Authority passport holders to board flights to Cairo en route to Gaza.
“Dozens more Palestinians are reported stranded at Cairo airport in deplorable conditions as efforts are made to persuade Egypt to reopen Rafah,” Electronic Intifada reports.
[This article originally appeared on Mada Masr.]