Remember when Ehud Olmert decided to deport Sudanese refugees to Egypt, promising that these poor people would not then be arrested or harassed by Egypt and would not be sent back to the Sudan? Remember how human rights activists inside and outside Israel doubted Olmert's word just as they doubted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's? Remember how some of us argued that these deportations were against core Jewish values?
Sadly, it seems we were correct. Ha'aretz reports:
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees is investigating whether Egypt broke its promise not to deport Sudanese refugees back to their country of origin after they had illegally crossed into Israel, UNHCR's Cairo spokeswoman told Haaretz.
The investigation, which also involves Israel's Foreign Affairs Ministry, revolves around 48 Sudanese refugees whom Israel deported to Egypt two months ago.
The spokeswoman, Abir Atfah, said her organization asked the Egyptian authorities to allow the UNHCR to meet the refugees, who were deported back to Egypt on August 19, but this effort failed. Atfah believes the 48 refugees were arrested as soon as they entered Egypt.
"Some of the refugees deserve recognition as asylum seekers. We are very troubled by the possibility that they were deported back to Sudan," Atfah said. She added that 23 of the refugees had asked to be recognized as asylum seekers.…
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem is trying through the embassy in Cairo to gain information about the group of refugees, a ministry official told Haaretz. Ministry officials said they have so far been unsuccessful.
One Sudanese refugee who is in Israel said a relative of his who had been deported to Egypt told him over the phone she was detained in Egypt for three weeks until she was flown to Sudan. She was questioned by the Sudanese authorities and then released, he said.