Fr. MUSSIE ZERAI ENGAGES AMBASSADOR TO THE HOLY SEE
ABOUT ERITREAN IN EGYPT
Today, November 10, 2011 a meeting was held at the Egyptian Embassy to the Holy See, between Aly Hamada MEKHEMAR, AMBASSADOR OF EGYPT TO THE HOLY SEE, Mr. Ahmad Raafat, Embassy’s second secretary, the Hon. Savino Pezzotta, President of the Italian Council for Refugees, and Fr. Mussie Zerai, Chairman of the Habeshia Agency. In the encounter, issues were raised concerning the Eritrean refugees in Egypt, including captivity in the Sinai, the trafficking of organs, and the deportatiion of Eritrean refugees, in violation to the Geneva Convention of 1951 which protects the right of asylum, of which Egypt is a signatory.
Arrest and indefinite detention of Eritrean asylum seekers and refugees (already recognized by UNHCR office in Sudan and Ethiopia ) due to their illegal entry/exit of the country, was one of the requests presented to the Ambassador.
Even in the understandable right of Egypt to protect its borders and to halt individuals entering/exiting the country illegally, it is a duty of the GoE to guarantee the right of asylum to those individuals requesting it, as per Art 31 of the 1951 Refugee Convention, which asks states not to penalize asylum seekers for their illegal entry. “The Contracting States shall not impose penalties, on account of their illegal entry or presence, on refugees who, coming directly from a territory where their life or freedom was threatened in the sense of article 1, enter or are present in their territory without authorization, provided they present themselves without delay to the authorities and show good cause for their illegal entry or presence.”