Amnesty International criticized Egypt on Thursday for deporting 200 Eritreans seeking asylum, saying the Africans would be at risk of torture and other ill-treatment at home.
The rights group said Egypt was preparing to deport an additional 1,400 Eritreans, despite U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees guidelines discouraging the return of asylum seekers to Eritrea because of serious human rights violations.
A senior Egyptian security official tasked with detaining and deporting illegal immigrants confirmed 200 Eritreans were sent home Wednesday but said only 650 remain in custody.
The reason for the discrepancy in numbers could not be immediately explained.
The remaining Eritreans will also be deported, but an exact date has not yet been set, said the security official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.
The Eritrean Embassy in Egypt did not have information on the deported citizens or those who remain in the country.
Thousands of Africans sneak into Egypt every year seeking employment or passage to Israel in search of a better life. Many are arrested, and some are even shot and killed, as they sneak across Egypt’s borders or reach the country by sea.
Amnesty said the UNHCR office in Egypt has not been granted access to any of the Eritreans to assess their asylum claims.