Death of Sudanese refugee protestors in Cairo unjustified – UN top officials

30 December 2005

The United Nations Secretary-General and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today both expressed deep shock and sadness over a fatal confrontation in Cairo between Egyptian police and Sudanese protesters who have been demanding resettlement to third countries and better living conditions.

“Their deaths are a terrible tragedy that cannot be justified,” a spokesman for Mr. Annan said in a formal statement. High Commissioner Antonio Guterres also said the bloodshed was totally unjustified.

Up to 2,500 Sudanese migrants had been demonstrating in Cairo’s Mostafa Mahmoud Park since 29 September, according to UNHCR.

The spokesman said the Secretary-General expressed “profound regret” that this situation was not resolved peacefully and through dialogue, as UNHCR had strongly urged.

“I am deeply shocked and saddened by the tragic events early today in Cairo,” Mr. Guterres said in Geneva.

Both Mr. Annan and the UNHCR chief extended condolences to those affected by the tragedy.

The situation is complicated by the fact that most of the refugees will not have the option they are demanding, namely resettlement in third countries. That could only occur at the discretion of those States, not UNHCR, the agency’s spokeswoman, Jennifer Pagonis, said in Geneva earlier this month.

At that time, she voiced the agency’s concern about the deteriorating humanitarian and health situation in the park and about the fact that it was becoming a public order issue for the Egyptian authorities.


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