Egypt: “Handcuffed like dangerous criminals”: Arbitrary detention and forced returns of Sudanese refugees in Egypt

Since September 2023, Egypt’s Border Guard Forces and police have carried out mass arbitrary arrests of Sudanese people who fled the ongoing armed conflict in Sudan for irregularly entering or staying in Egypt. The Egyptian authorities held women, men and children in cruel and inhuman conditions, including in warehouses or horse stables, pending their forced return to Sudan without giving them the opportunity to claim asylum or to challenge their deportation.

With the conflict in Sudan continuing, tens of thousands of undocumented Sudanese refugees in Egypt remain at risk of arbitrary arrest, detention in appalling conditions and forced return to Sudan. Despite Egypt’s abysmal human rights record including violations against refugees and migrants, the EU announced in March 2024 a strategic partnership agreement with Egypt, involving a €7.4 billion aid and investment package that seeks, among other things, to deepen cooperation over migration and border control.

Egyptian authorities must immediately stop all forced returns of Sudanese nationals, and facilitate the safe and dignified passage of people fleeing conflict in Sudan. The EU must ensure any engagement with Egypt on border control and migration includes human rights safeguards and follows rigorous human rights risk assessments on the human rights impact of agreements.

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