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Sudanese refugees will not be deported, says Egypt

Sudanese needing protection will not be deported, Egypt assures UN refugee agency

Officials from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have received assurances from the Egyptian authorities that they will not deport Sudanese refugees in need of international protection who were involved in a fatal demonstration last month in a Cairo park, the agency announced today.

The indications came as senior UNHCR staff from Cairo and Geneva met on Monday with Egyptian officials following the expiry of the deadline for UNHCR to assess the status of 462 Sudanese held in three Cairo detention centres since the incident.

Up to 2,500 Sudanese migrants had been demanding resettlement to third countries and better living conditions in Cairo's Mostafa Mahmoud Park since 29 September 2004 when a confrontation with police turned violent.

“UNHCR briefed the authorities on progress made over the past week in assessing these individuals, and emphasized that we would need additional time for a proper, in-depth legal analysis of the status of remaining Sudanese in prison,” agency spokesman Ron Redmond told reporters in Geneva.

“UNHCR teams worked day and night over the past week, but given the number of Sudanese in detention our teams were able to conduct interviews averaging only 30-40 minutes. This is not enough to do a thorough status-determination.”

Citing humanitarian grounds, the agency asked that no one be deported at this time. “UNHCR obtained adequate assurances that those in need of international protection will not be deported,” Mr. Redmond said. “We have also received positive indications that additional time will be given to the office to finalize the legal process and assess all the cases properly.”

The agency, which has been working to reunite families, last week traced the mother of a seven-year old girl who was being held in detention. The girl was released and reunited with her mother. “We hope to be able to reunite more families, with the cooperation of the Egyptian authorities,” Mr. Redmond said.

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