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Sudan condemns shooting of migrants in Egypt

November 24 - 2015 KHARTOUM / CAIRO / NEW YORK
Israeli-Egyptian border fence (file photo)
Israeli-Egyptian border fence (file photo)

Five Sudanese nationals were found shot dead in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula near the Israeli border on Monday. The United Nations, Sudan, and Egypt have exchanged critical statements in the press, straining their relations.

Eleven Sudanese were also wounded by gunshots as the group attempted to reach Israel, officials told news agency AFP. The Sinai Peninsula is a major route for African migrants attempting to reach Israel.

The Egyptian military said that border guards killed and injured the Sudanese nationals who were attempting to cross into Israel, after firing warning shots. It said that five other Sudanese nationals were arrested.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced his deep concern on Monday on the deaths of the Sudanese refugees and urged Egypt to “launch a full investigation” into the “tragic events”.

Ghandour: ‘16 Sudanese have been killed in Egypt, and 23 detained.’

Addressing parliament on Monday, the Sudanese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ibrahim Gandour has accused the Egyptian authorities of committing many violations against Sudanese nationals in Egypt. According to his Ministry’s records, 16 Sudanese citizens have been shot dead by Egyptian border guards while trying to reach Israel. In addition, 23 Sudanese have been detained; four of them were released.

Gandour pointed to inspection campaigns in the streets of Cairo, aimed against Sudanese nationals. He said that Sudan is not going to tolerate the ongoing violence against its citizens.

In response, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said in an emailed statement that the continued approach of “jumping to issue statements and criticism without relying on accurate information or viewing statements issued by the Egyptian government” was “regrettable”.

Shooting in November

The killings on Monday come on the heels of a similar incident on 15 November, in which 15 Sudanese nationals were shot dead, also near the Egypt-Israeli border, when they attempted to climb over the border fence. The incident was never acknowledged in an official statement.

Egypt border police have often killed and wounded migrants at the border as they tried to cross into Israel between 2009 and 2011. Egypt’s eastern border is a troubled area with a recent history of human trafficking of victims from Eritrea, as well as Sudan and Ethiopia.

Harassment in Cairo

Last week, the Sudanese Embassy in Cairo submitted a memo to the Egyptian Foreign Ministry inquiring about a recent surge in harassment of Sudanese citizens in Egypt.

The memo mentioned that there have been frequent complaints by Sudanese travellers who claim they have been stopped in Cairo streets by the police, who even reportedly seized their money in the process.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry has cited the possibility of “isolated, individual cases of abuse” by the country’s security services against Sudanese citizens and said an investigation is underway by the relevant agencies.

(Sources: AFP, APA)

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