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UN begins interviewing Sudanese detainees in Cairo

UN refugee agency begins interviewing Sudanese detainees in Cairo

Staff of the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) have begun interviewing more than 600 Sudanese being held in three detention centres on the outskirts of Cairo following last week's fatal demonstrations.

The Sudanese were taken into custody by police after their three-month sit-in protest in a Cairo park ended tragically last Friday in a confrontation that left several people dead and injured.

Egyptian authorities, who have announced their intention to deport some of the Sudanese, gave UNHCR three days to assess the legal status of the detainees and their possible need for international protection.

A total of 22 UNHCR staff divided into three teams and began work Thursday in three detention centers on the outskirts of Cairo. Ekber Menemencioglu, director of the UNHCR regional bureau responsible for the Middle East, said the agency would work quickly to help the Sudanese. “We are going to do our best to get these interviews completed as soon as possible to ensure that everyone in need of protection gets it.”

Earlier in the week, authorities released most of the Sudanese initially detained who were holding UNHCR cards identifying them as either refugees or asylum seekers. The agency and its partners have been providing assistance to them in various Cairo locations, including a church in the Sakakini district where a medical clinic was set up over the weekend to treat the injured.

The agency also delivered medical supplies to the clinic, along with 1,160 blankets. More than 580 medical cases have been seen by medical staff at Sakakini since the night of 31 December. Cases of fractures, shock and trauma have been referred to the Italian Hospital in Cairo.

On Wednesday, UNHCR launched a one-time emergency housing allowance to benefit any homeless families who participated in the demonstration. It is also distributing food parcels that included milk, sugar, rice, lentils, cooking oil and other items while working on family tracing to reunite any families that have become separated.

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