By Sarah El-Sheikh
Fifteen African bodies were found dead and eight others injured some 17 km south of Rafah, when they allegedly attempted to illegally flee to Israel from Sinai on Sunday.
According to AP, the African migrants were shot by Egyptian security forces when they ordered them to stop but the migrants continued running towards the borders. It took place during a gun battle between the Egyptian forces and Bedouin smugglers.
Egyptian security sources however reported that the 15 African bodies were found killed by indentified suspects.
Ambulances were sent to take the bodies to the hospital and it was reported that the eight injured migrants are in stable condition and that the Egyptian forces arrested them for investigations.
The incident witnessed little coverage in Egyptian media, the government’s or official’s reports. Only international media reported the incident, including AFP and Israeli radio.
In December 2005, Egyptian forces killed 23 Sudanese nationals, including women and children, who established a protest camp in the Mohandessin in Cairo, according to the New York Times.
There are 33 reported incidents of Egyptian border guards killing migrants in 2007 and 2008 and many others experienced severe physical and psychological abuse from human traffickers, according to the Human Rights Watch figures.
In October 2015, the Ministry of Justice announced a plan to establish specialised courts to prosecute human traffickers and smugglers.
According to the El Nadeem Centre for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, African nationals come to Egypt as a transitional area until they find ways to reach their target destinations, whether in Europe or Israel. The centre noted that policemen often verbally assault and physically abuse Africans refugees of both genders.
There are 12,600 Somalis, 30,000 Sudanese, and 5,800 Ethiopians refugees in Egypt, according to UNHCR estimates in 2015. According to the Israeli foreign minister, about 45,000 African migrants and asylum seeks are present in Israel currently.