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Cablegate: Egypt Contemplates Deporting 400 Eritreans

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LONDON AND PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHERS
DEPT FOR AF/E

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREF PREL SMIG EG IS ER
SUBJECT: Egypt Contemplates Deporting 400 Eritreans


1. (SBU) Ambassador met March 24 with Egyptian Ambassador Ihab
Hamouda to discuss the presence of illegal Eritrean immigrants in
Egypt, of which Ihab claims there are more than 400. Ihab said the
government of Egypt and the Eritrean Ministry of Foreign Affairs are
discussing a procedure for returning these immigrants-cum-refugees.

2. (SBU) Ambassador Ihab described two ways that Eritreans travel
to Egypt. The first has been by obtaining Egyptian visas through
misrepresentation by the Eritrean MFA. Ihab stated that Eritrean
MFA employees routinely call the Egyptian Consulate on behalf of
private citizens (presumed to be the result of bribes). The
Egyptian Embassy has learned that many of these visa recipients have
attempted to cross the Israeli border through Egypt. The second
method involves traveling via Sudan up the Red Sea Coast towards
Egypt. Ihab noted that these immigrants do not have Egyptian visas
and generally tend to stay a week on the Eastern coast, before
continuing north to the Sinai and eventually crossing into Israel.
Ihab commented that Egypt has 750 police along the Sinai border, a
grossly inadequate number needed to address this illegal migration.
Several Eritreans have been killed trying to cross from Egypt into
Israel in the past month, according to press reports.

3. (SBU) COMMENT: Despite the known dangers of crossing the very
sensitive Egypt-Israel border, many Eritreans attempt the journey,
another indication of the desperation of the populace in the face of
Eritrean living conditions. Concerns about swelling numbers of
Eritrean refugees and immigrants have been voiced to us by officials
from the U.K., Sweden, Switzerland, Sudan, Libya, and Italy, in
addition to the Egyptian Ambassador. End Comment.
MCMULLEN

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