Egypt’s “Shot-to-Stop” Policy

November 13, 2008

According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, the advocacy group Human Rights Watch recently condemned the nation of Egypt for shooting refugees crossing the Sinai desert region on their flight for asylum in Israel. In July of 2007, news about a seven-month pregnant woman being shot by Egyptian border guards only highlighted the 33 other refugees who have been killed by Egypt’s “Shot-to-Stop” policy towards those fleeing from their home. 32 of those killed have been black Africans. According to the article:

Since 2006, more than 130,000 refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants have passed though Egypt and crossed the Sinai border into Israel, according to the report. African migrants have complained about the difficulty of social and economic integration in Egypt.

The report emphasized that Egypt began a shoot-to-stop policy following a meeting between the Israeli prime minister and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in late June 2007. In the meeting, the two leaders discussed the flow of refugees into Israel by way of Egypt.

“We are not saying that Israel ordered Egypt to kill people; there is no evidence of that,” explained Van Esveld, “but what we are saying is that it seems that Egypt has responded to Israeli pressures with this policy of lethal force.”

A report entitled, Sinai Perils: Risks to Migrants, Refugees and Asylum seekers in Egypt and Israel, points to the fact that the Egyptian government has not allowed African refugees to make asylum cases and have tried them in military courts before deporting them (hundreds in numbers) to conflict zones where the refugee’s well-being is jeopardized. It is important to note the experiences of black African refugees is drastically different than refugees from Palestine and Iraq.

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