Sudan deports 30 Eritreans back to troubled homeland
KHARTOUM - Sudan has deported 30 Eritreans, including at least six registered as refugees, back to their homeland where they risk detention and abuse, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Thursday.
Sudan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs could not immediately comment, and a source at the country's refugee commission had no information.
The Human Rights Watch statement came the same day that Eritrea's President Issaias Afeworki landed in Khartoum for a three-day official visit.
The Eritrean group of 30 was arrested near the Libyan border in early February and held for three months without charge and without access to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), HRW said.
"On May 1, 2014, Sudanese authorities in eastern Sudan handed 30 Eritreans over to Eritrean security forces," the group said, citing information from two advocates who were in telephone contact with the group.
"Sudan is forcibly returning Eritreans to serious risk of detention and abuse at the hands of a brutal government," said Gerry Simpson, senior refugee researcher at Human Rights Watch.
The watchdog said international law forbids countries from deporting asylum seekers without first allowing them to apply for asylum and considering their cases.
International law also prohibits deportation to places where they would face a risk of death or ill-treatment, HRW added.
According to the UNHCR, an average of 600 refugees from Eritrea make their way to neighbouring Sudan each month.
Sudanese officials announced last week that troops from Sudan and Libya had rescued hundreds of illegal migrants in the scorching desert border region between the two countries where traffickers had dumped them.
Ten migrants died. Troops escorted the survivors, some of them in ill health, to the northern Sudanese town of Dongola.
A journalist in Dongola said most of the migrants appeared to be Ethiopian or Eritrean, but there were some Sudanese as well.
Many Eritreans who reach Sudan travel on to Israel or try to reach Europe, often with the help of smugglers.