Fr. Mussie Zerai, Meet the Egyptian Ambassador to the Holy See:

Today, November 10, 2011 hours 13.30, a meeting was held at the Egyptian Embassy to the Holy See, at this meeting Her Excellency Mrs. Aly Hamada MEKHEMAR, AMBASSADOR OF THE ARAB REPUBLIC OF EGYPT TO

Today, November 10, 2011 hours 13.30, a meeting was held at the Egyptian Embassy to the Holy See, at this meeting Her Excellency Mrs. Aly Hamada MEKHEMAR, AMBASSADOR OF THE ARAB REPUBLIC OF EGYPT TO THE HOLY SEE, Mr. Ahmad Raafat Embassy second secretary, Hon. Savino Pezzotta, Member and President of the Italian Council for Refugees, and Fr. Mussie Zerai Chairman of the Habeshia.
In the interview, were all addressed issues concerning the emergency Eritrean refugees in Egypt, starting from the plight of the hostages in the Sinai, and trafficking of organs, and also discussed the best practice of repatriation or deportation of Eritrean refugees inprogram, in violation of international treaties including the Geneva Convention of 1951 which protects the right of asylum, of which Egypt and frimataria.
Arrest and indefinite detention of Eritrean asylum seekers and refugees (already recognized by UNHCR office in Sudan and Ethiopia) due to their illegal entry/exit of the country.
Even the understandable right of Egypt to protect its borders and to halt individuals entering/exiting the country unofficially it is also a duty of the government of Egypt to guarantee the right of asylum for those individuals  expressing their request  as per established by article 31 of  the 1951 Refugee convention of which Egypt is signatory which asks states not to penalize asylum seekers for their illegal entry. (The Contracting States shall not impose penalties, on account of their illegal entry or presence, on refugees who, coming directly from a territory where their life or freedom was threatened in the sense of article 1, enter or are present in their territory without authorization, provided they present themselves without delay to the authorities and show good cause for their illegal entry or presence.)

Hundreds of asylum seekers arrested at the border with Sudan are kept in detention even in situation where the court suspends the sentence for illegal entry.
The request of access to the UNHCR office in Cairo remains in the 99% of the cases without response since the government refuses to provide the access to individuals not yet registered with the UNHCR in Cairo. In this way, the government is preventing the  UNHCR from fulfilling its duties by assessing the claim of those seeking asylum.


In the past weeks, 5 to 9 Eritrean nationals were deported to Eritrea against their will. Three of them are women and for one of them (she was detained in Qanater prison in Cairo), the UNHCR request of access was ignored for almost one year before she was deported.
Currently, there is a group of 118 Eritrean males, 26 Eritrean women + 4(or 5) children in Shellal military camp in Aswan. Their deportation process already started.

The Immigration office in Aswan has already contacted the Eritrean embassy in Cairo which went to Shellal military camp. The Eritrean prisoners have been forcibly registered and their pictures taken in order to prepare the travel documents.
The registration process has been done with the collaboration of Egyptian authorities who have forced (beating them up) the Eritreans to sign the papers for deportation.

Please note:- around 100 of those currently held in Shellal have a UNHCR number either in Sudan or Ethiopia. Egypt is in this way violating the principle of non refoulement by deporting individuals already registered with the UNHCR back to a country where they will face persecution.

Victim of trafficking:
In addition to the above mentioned points, it is necessary to highlight that an important number of Eritrean currently in the custody of the police stations, are victims of trafficking.
Men and women who arrive in Egypt are often the victim of a trafficking network which starts in Sudan and ends in Sinai at the border with Israel.
Eritreans are sold from smuggler to smuggler and held in captivity without being able to escape and trafficked in this way until they reach the Sinai penisula where they are often kept hostages of the Bedouins requesting a ransom whose average is currently about 25-30,000$.
Those who cannot pay the amount request face abuse (physical and sexual), violence and, according to the last information (to be confirmed), also exposed to the theft of their organs and killing.
Those rescued by the police and/or arrested at the border, often injured by the Bedouins and by the police are – aften being hospitalized- held in detention in one of the police stations of Sinai and without access to the UNHCR.

The conditions in the police stations are very difficult because they have rarely access to doctors and the hygienic conditions are poor.
Some of those detained in the police stations died of TB.
Vulnerable people, like women, children and inured persons are held in detention in police stations which are not done to assist individuals with such vulnerabilities.

In this context, it seems that for now, the anti- trafficking law, is not applied to such individuals and the necessary assistance and protection is not guaranteed.
Specific requests made by Fr. Mussie Zerai the Embassy: –
1. Immediately stop the deportations of Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers.
2. Allow access to the UNHCR, in police stations or military camps where Eritreans refugees are detained .
3. Egyptian police, working together to identify, and arrest the traffickers and their accomplices, who receive the money in Cairo, result of blackmail.
4. Make an agreement between the nations involved in this phenomenon of trafficking in human beings and organs, for a serious fight against these crimes.
Fr. Mussie Zerai, has asked for a clear gesture by the Egyptian authorities to combat crime against humanity which is the trafficking of organs and persons.
Ambassador, Her Excellency Mrs. Aly Hamada MEKHEMAR, has expressed his sorrow for the tragic situation they are facing many Eritreans held hostage by smugglers. He undertook to discuss with the Egyptian authorities responsible, to search for solution for all problems that have been brought to its attention.

Fr. Mussie Zerai
Presidente dell’Agenzia Habeshia
per la Cooperazione allo Sviluppo
Tel. +39.3384424202

Review overview
  • Dr. Tesfay Ghebre Meskel November 11, 2011

    Dear Abate,
    Thank you very much for all the efforts you show in the plight of the needy. We all Erireans stay with you. May God Help you fulfill your goal

  • Selamawi November 11, 2011

    A thank-you note to the responsible priest, Father Mussie – may God repay you with eternal life for you have been doing for your compatriots.

    The above Mussies is good but we need another Mussie who can lead us to address our real problem/s. The source of the problem is the Eritrean regime.
    The funny irony is that the Eritrean Embassies will deny Eritreans citizens of any services but they work hard to return them to Eritrea. We all know what happens to these poor citizens: THEY FACE THE ALREADY SUB-HUMAN TREATMENT IN THEIR COUNTRY.

    Please PFDJ leave us in peace – Gedefuna! We cannot live in our country because of you and we cannot live in neighboring countries because of you. Please stop violating our human rights and our rights as citizens!

    All Eritreans should say SIMERRR!!! and join the waves of change with the younger generation at the drive seat. Simeru, sesnu guys!

    May God touch the hearts and minds of the Egyptian authorities, so they may realize that they are cooperating with a repressive regime. The other irony is that the Egyptians stood for theri right in Tahrir Square…and yet they failed to see the basic needs of Eritreans…

    • Zekhtam Eritrawi November 11, 2011


      Your message is not only powerful, it is a spot on as well. Please allow me to quote you: “May God touch the hearts and minds of the Egyptian authorities, so they may realize that they are cooperating with a repressive regime. The other irony is that the Egyptians stood for theri right in Tahrir Square…and yet they failed to see the basic needs of Eritreans…” I wish Egyptians could read the above quoted powerful statement so that they could understand the gravity of the pain permeating in our hearts. Again, thank you hawey.

  • tes November 11, 2011

    Big thank you fr.Mussie are sending from our God. as we reading from those helpless young people which they were wrote in the stone of desert by their blood####they said we trust our GOD###Who havn’t any one have God ###so you are sending to them from our God. God bless you for ever.

  • Awet HAilemariam November 11, 2011

    Thank you Aba Mussie God bless you for being an angel for our Poor Brothers and sisters who are suffering from Loneliness.I would like to confirm you that we are always beside you.

  • Abdul November 11, 2011

    I am very happy to see some concerned Eritreans doing their best. I hope that something positive will happen soon. I feel that an uproar of all Eritreans all over the world should be heard, and participate in any form to help alleviate this tragedy as soon as possible.
    God bless those who care

  • Suzan November 12, 2011

    Yes that is very good father. Hope all the Eritreans understand what is going on to their fellow brothers and sisters. So that they stop inviting to come on this risky road. Try to be united among themselves and Trust each other. This is the real solution. They are very few people who are making you suffering by creating mistrust to each other. Back to the real manner of Eritreians.
    May God help you people to open your eyes, and for those who are working for the good of others like Fr.Muse, may God increase his grace on you.

  • tewolde November 12, 2011

    no more trust egyptian.

  • guest November 14, 2011

    This should have been the work of responsible government . First of all these problems are created by the repressive government who enslave the youth for its fanciful agenda in East Africa, second, this illegal immigration is orchestrated from home by the higher military officers or under their connection, and the other the youth is denied at least to live ordinary life like other African brothers denied – not to move from one place to another, not to do business, not to work, not to study and finally not to leave the country, under these circumstance the youth have no chance but to leave the nation at any cost.

    Once this scenario happen the government did not try to raise its voice , this should have a good sign of the government who does not give a crab about its people , there is no word when 400 Eritreans died in the sea, and the suffering of more , but at last we have got citizens who enlighten the problem of Eritreans on the behalf of the government. Finally the work of Aba Mussie is a great lesson to blind supporters of the regime, at least you should ask what is going on in side Eritrea to officers in stead of just crying and dancing for PIA.—– It is real humanitarian crisis

  • Halay November 14, 2011

    Finaly one Eritrean who doesn’t only speak but also does concrete steps forward ! We are proud of you.

    GOD bless you father Mussie Zerai !

  • Hawcka November 14, 2011

    Aba Mussie – The Eritrean/African shepherd ! Thank you !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    You have achieved it without weapons to save the lives of the victims in Sinai – Your next job will be freeing our people back home also without weapons !

    God bless you Aba Mussie – we are proud of You !