Egypt: Escalating racist attacks against African refugees requires protective measures and punishment for those involved


GENEVA – The Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties follows with great concern the recurring incidents of violence and discrimination against African refugees in Egypt, including from societal groups, and calls on the authorities to take serious measures to stop these racist attacks, protect the victims, and held accountable those involved.
The latest incident recorded of the attack on African refugees in Egypt was on Saturday, April 29, when a group of Egyptian youths attacked three children (one boy and two girls) from South Sudan refugees, inside an apartment in Ain Shams neighborhood in the capital, Cairo.
According to “African Refugee Platform in Egypt”, the three children were returning from a party when a group of young men carrying white weapons intercepted them, took them to an apartment, and severely beat and insulted the child, while the two girls were subjected to physical and sexual abuse. They had their hair shaved and then thrown in the street. One of those involved in the attack recorded a video and posted it on the “Tik Tok” platform, in which he appears proudly beating, insulting one of the three children, and forcing him to do housework. Later the video was removed.
The Egyptian police arrested three of the participants in the incident and referred them to the Public Prosecution Office. In the latest development, the attackers’ families, accompanied by a group of outlaws, known as “thugs or baltagiya”, surrounded the home of the family of one of the abused children, and threatened them to withdraw the case for the incident, which put at risk of falling victim to a new assault at any moment.
According to the Geneva Council, the incident is not the first of its kind, recently a number of African refugees in Egypt were subjected to racist practices on the basis of color, including assault, insult, harassment, bullying and other degrading acts. On June 16, 2020, 3 Egyptians assaulted the Sudanese child, “Nael Muhammad Omar,” (15 years), in the Imbaba airport area in Cairo. They stole his belongings and his money, insulted him, and assaulted him with racist language. They made a video of the incident and posted it on the Internet.
In October 2020, a Sudanese girl was subjected to mass assault and harassment by Egyptian youths in Nasr City. The security forces arrested some of the accused in the incident.
In the same month, the Sudanese child “Muhammad Hassan Abdullah” was killed by an Egyptian in “Masaken Othman” in Giza Governorate, over a financial dispute with his father.
In October 2019, the South Sudanese student “John” was subjected to violence and racial assault in the Maadi area, and the oldest perpetrator of the attack proudly published the incident on social media. The police arrested the assailants and referred them to the prosecution. The Egyptian president invited the Sudanese student to one of the youth conferences, and then the case ended with reconciliation on the part of the victim’s family, after which the defendants were released.
In the same month, Reuters published a report documenting the exposure of eight refugee women from Sudan, South Sudan, and Somalia to sexual assaults and rape incidents in Cairo.
Although the Egyptian security forces worked in most cases to arrest the aggressors and take legal measures against them, the cases often ended with reconciliation for several reasons, including the refugees’ fear of reprisals, which allowed the attackers to escape punishment.
According to data from the International Organization for Migration, Egypt hosts more than 6 million refugees, more than half of them from Sudan and South Sudan. Noting that the complaints of refugees being attacked jumped from two to three per week, to become seven complaints per week.
The Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties calls on the Egyptian authorities to launch awareness-raising campaigns about racism, discrimination, stigma, and bullying against refugees in parallel with the development of legal legislation to increase the punishment of perpetrators of any attacks that involve discrimination, racism, and bullying while taking effective steps to protect the victims and end impunity.
The Council urges the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to cooperate with the Egyptian authorities to improve the lives of refugees in Egypt and enable them to exercise their basic rights.

The following video documents a racist assault on a refugee child

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