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« on: August 11, 2007, 08:24:37 PM »

 Egypt warns it won't take back refugees who cross into Israel
By The Associated Press

Egypt warned Israel on Friday that it is not obligated to take back African refugees sneaking into Israel and defended its use of force to stop the illegal border crossings.

The warning came as Capt. Mohammed Badr of the northern Sinai police announced Friday the arrest of 11 Sudanese near the border, including four couples in their late twenties, a pregnant woman, and two children.

The refugees told police during interrogation that they paid several hundred dollars per person to Egyptian Bedouins to smuggle them into Israel, Badr said. He said the refugees were from northern Sudan and would be deported back to their country of origin.
Swamped with rising numbers of African refugees that it does not know what to do with, Israel asked Egypt in July to increase its surveillance of the border and take back some of the thousands of people that have slipped across the frontier.

Israeli media recently stepped up criticism of Egyptian border police, describing an incident in which the Egyptians allegedly shot and beat several Sudanese refugees in front of horrified Israeli soldiers.

Egypt has not commented on the report.

"If those crossing refuse to heed the orders of authorities to stop, then authorities are forced to deal with them in such a manner to ensure respect for the law," a statement from the Egyptian foreign ministry said, adding that local and international law allow use of force to stop illegal border trafficking.

The statement also warned that Egypt was under no obligation to help Israel deal with its refugee influx by accepting back any of the Africans or other nationalities who made it into Israel.

Egypt has informed Israel - officially - that it is not obligated to receive any non-Egyptian citizen who illegally crosses the border into Israel, the statement said.

The statement appeared to contradict an announcement by the Israeli government following a July 1 meeting between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, which said that an agreement had been reached to hand back illegal migrants to the Egyptians.

According to Israel, Egypt also agreed to step up efforts to interdict the migrants. In the last six weeks one Sudanese women has been shot dead at the border and several were wounded, while arrests of Africans have become an almost daily occurrence.

Israel estimates that some 2,800 people, including 1,160 Sudanese, have crossed illegally from Egypt through the porous Sinai desert border in recent years. Many of the Sudanese come from the war-wracked western Darfur region, seeking asylum and a better life in Israel.

The number shot up in the past two months, apparently as word spread of job opportunities in Israel. As many as 50 people arrived daily in June, according to the UN refugee agency.

Egypt warns it won't take back refugees who cross into Israel

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