Home | News    Thursday 5 July 2007

Sudanese refugee shot fleeing Egypt for Israel

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July 4, 2007 (EL-ARISH, Egypt) — Egyptian border guards shot a Sudanese refugee and arrested two others from war-torn Darfur region on Wednesday as they tried to cross from Egypt into Israel, a police official said.

Twenty-six other refugees were successful in their attempt to illegally cross the border, the official said. The Israeli army, meanwhile, said 47 Africans crossed the border from Egypt overnight, without specifying nationalities. The army did not provide more details.

Egyptian security officials shot one Sudanese refugee, who did not have a passport, when he did not comply with orders to turn himself over to authorities, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The refugee was taken to an Egyptian hospital, and his condition was "very critical," according to the official.

Authorities arrested two other Sudanese refugees, Rawda Abdullah, 25, and her 24-year-old brother Ismail, who were from the war-torn Darfur region, as they tried to cross the border. They remain in police custody.

The three were part of a group of 29 Sudanese refugees who paid smugglers $US500 dollars (euro367) each to help them sneak into Israel, said the official.

Radwa Abdullah told interrogators that the refugees met with a broker in Cairo who promised them a safe crossing into Israel. She said they were then covered with bed sheets on mini-trucks and entered the Sinai Peninsula, where they spent a night in Bedouin tents. In the early morning, masked Bedouins led them to a border area where the barbed wire was dangling and had many holes, the official said Radwa Abdullah told investigators.

Later in the day, border guards arrested two Sudanese women, two men and two children, also from Darfur and a Somali man who said he was seeking work in Israel, the Egyptian border official said.

On Monday, 20 Sudanese refugees were arrested while attempting to cross into Israel, seeking political asylum.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Monday that about 2,800 people, including 1,160 Sudanese, have crossed illegally from Egypt through its porous Sinai desert border with Israel in recent years.

He said that Israel would absorb Sudanese the U.N. designates as refugees from the western region of Darfur, where violence has killed some 200,000 people and left 2.5 million homeless.

But illegal immigrants who entered Israel looking for work will be returned to Egypt, he said. He did not estimate how many Sudanese in Israel might qualify as asylum seekers.

Many Sudanese find life difficult in Egypt, a country that struggles to provide jobs and social services for a growing refugee population. Egyptian riot police violently cleared a refugee encampment in central Cairo in 2005, killing nearly 30 people.

(AP)

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