Egyptian officials, UN in spat over killing of Sudanese migrants

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry snubbed concerns expressed by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon over the killing of at least five Sudanese migrants attempting to cross into Israel from North Sinai on Monday.

The Ministry of Defense announced the deaths, as well as the injury of at least 17 others, saying security forces “succeeded in foiling an attempt to infiltrate the international border in the north-east” of the country.

Later on Monday, Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for Ban, said he “remains deeply troubled” by reports of the killing and urged Egyptian authorities to launch a full investigation to “shed light into these tragic events, ensure accountability and prevent a recurrence.”

In response, the spokesperson for Egypt’s Foreign Ministry Ahmed Abu Zeid rejected Ban’s statements, lamenting what he referred to as the “consistent jumping to conclusions, and criticisms that aren’t based on accurate information nor refer to official statements on the incident.”

The spokesperson urged Ban and his aides to refer to the Defense Ministry’s statement on this incident, which asserts that border control guards were dealing with “illegal migrants,” and that they fired warning shots to no avail. He asserted that the Sudanese nationals also fired back and injured an Egyptian conscript.

“At a time when the world is witnessing a significant escalation in terrorist attacks, and with the demand for international efforts to combat terrorism … we find those who criticize specific states’ securing of their borders,” he said.

Last week another 15 Sudanese citizens were shot dead in North Sinai, with conflicting reports suggesting they were either killed by border guards or in the crossfire between security forces and Bedouin smugglers. They were also reportedly attempting to cross the border into Israel.

Sudanese officials and newspapers criticized Egypt following reports of abuse and the mistreatment of Sudanese nationals at the hands of Egyptian security forces.

Last week, the Sudanese Embassy in Cairo sent a letter to Egypt’s Foreign Affairs Ministry decrying security campaigns targeting Sudanese nationals in Egypt, who they say are being increasingly subjected to searches and detention. The embassy accused Egyptian security forces of mistreating its citizens, and noted that the ministry had not responded to an earlier letter on the matter, which was sent at the beginning of the month.


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