A protest in the Egyptian capital Cairo has ended in tragedy. Police broke up a demonstration by Sudanese refugees and failed asylum-seekers. Twenty migrants were killed in what Egyptian authorities described as a stampede. More than 20 riot police were reportedly injured too. Forces moved in after officials failed to persuade the Sudanese to leave voluntarily.
The sit-in had been going on for three months outside the offices of the United Nations refugee agency, the UNHCR. Amid claims of discrimination in Egypt, some 3,000 Sudanese protesters have been demanding help from the UN in their efforts to leave and start new lives abroad.
Many say it is not safe to return to Sudan despite a peace agreement that ended the north-south civil war. The UNHCR says it is prepared to provide more assistance but cannot arrange for all those involved to be resettled in another country. Protesters forcibly removed by police were placed on buses. They were apparently being taken to another site.
The head of the UNHCR has criticised the way the situation was handled, saying there was no justification for “violence” and loss of life. However Sudan said the Egyptian government was within its rights to re-establish control.