Egyptian security forces shot dead a Sudanese man trying to cross into Israel on Tuesday. A total of five African migrants have now been killed crossing the border so far this year.
Security officials said 50-year-old Ermeniry Khasheef was shot in the back after he ignored orders to stop as he attempted to cross barbed wire near the border town of Rafah.
An Eritrean woman, Mervat Mer Hatover, was shot dead three days earlier, after she ignored orders to stop as she was attempting to jump over the barbed wire in the El Kuntilla border region. According to security officials, Mervat Mer Hatover and her two daughters, aged eight and ten, were among a group of Africans who paid smugglers to help them cross into Israel. All were arrested.
The military prosecutor is reported to have ordered an autopsy on Mervat Mer Hatover, but no proper investigation is known to have taken place.
“We call on the Egyptian authorities to protect the lives of migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers, intercepted at the border with Israel, and to launch immediately a thorough, independent, and impartial investigation into the killings and make its findings public,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.
Two migrants from Ivory Cost were shot and killed on 30 January trying to cross the border south of Rafah. According to the Egyptian security forces, a 22-year-old man and an 18-year-old woman bled to death before an ambulance could reach them. Six Eritreans and two Ethiopians were also arrested.
Another man from Ivory Cost bled to death on 19 January after he was shot in the thigh at the border with Israel. A Sudanese and a Guinean were arrested.
Thousands of migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers, mostly from Sudan and Eritrea or other parts of sub-Saharan Africa, try to cross from Egypt to Israel each year. Their numbers have been increasing since 2007.
In July 2007 alone, over 230 mostly Sudanese migrants were arrested trying to cross into Israel without official permission. According to the UNHCR, some two to three million Sudanese nationals live in Egypt; most of them are migrants. However, they also include thousands of refugees who have fled persecution in Sudan.
Israel has put pressure on Egypt to reduce the flow of people crossing the border into its territory without authorization.