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This is an urgent appeal for the protection of my sister, a refugee mother of five, and my nephew presently residing in Egypt.
I am writing to you today about an urgent situation. I need your help and your voice to save the lives of my sister, her children, and her nephew in Cairo. They have been attacked several times and are currently under threat of being killed. While I have used my voice to speak up against genocide, my immediate family members are not safe today and are under enormous threat.
On September 5th, my nephew, sister, and brother were attacked and had their lives threatened simply because they had reported repeated beatings and attacks on her children by local Cairo residents to the UNHCR. The UNHCR subsequently appointed a lawyer and demanded an investigation of the incidents.
My sister survived the Darfur genocide after long suffering and fled to Cairo seeking protection for her five minor children after her husband was abducted in 2012. My sister E. Ahmadi, her five children, and her nephew S.M. have been recognized as refugees and are waiting for their resettlement. They have lived in Ain Shams, Cairo, for four years now. However, these four years have not been easy for them.
Today, it is with a heavy heart that I tell you that my sister and her children have suffered several violent attacks by neighborhood residents. Additionally, her children have been held hostage on more than one occasion in which she was forced to pay money. This financial exploitation is due to their vulnerability and lack of protection as refugees.
As a result of these constant attacks, my sister, her children, and her nephew have been living in fear for the past two years. In particular, her children have been terrorized whenever they step out of their home. They have been attacked on their way to school, when they went to the market or the grocery store next to their residence, and even inside their home – an incident that I bore witness to during my most recent visit to Cairo on August 2015.
This is not a singular incident; I have also met with more than 100 refugee women, most of whom have reported similar situations to my sister’s. But the attacks against my sister seem very systematic.
After repeated assaults, my family members went to the UNHCR and demanded protection. The UNHCR responded after one year and finally assigned a lawyer to investigate the incidents. However, when the attackers and their families learned about the investigation, they gathered the entire neighborhood (about 50 men), and approached my nephew, and beat and threatened him as they demanded that he withdraw the complaints. When he refused, they beat him until his nose bled. To make matters worse, when the rest of my family and three other refugees came to my nephew’s rescue and implored the over 50 men not to resort to violence, they did not comply and beat them as well. The attackers further threatened them by demanding that they immediately sign an authorization to withdraw their complaint with the UNHCR. They made this demand in the presence of an Egyptian lawyer, who claimed to be representing the attackers. Unfortunately, the UNHCR has no immediate protection mechanism and now my sister and her children are subjected to threats that are made on their lives.
I call on all of you to add your voice to demand that the UNHCR grant my sister, and her children, protection and swift relocation and resettlement to save their lives
We further demand that the Egyptian authority stop their citizens from attacking my helpless sister, her family, and other refugees, until they can be resettled to a safer place.
Lastly, we urge the Egyptian authority to stop their citizens from attacking my sister and other refugees pursuant to the International Human Rights and Humanitarian Laws.
I sincerely appreciate any support that you can provide to save my sister and her family’s lives.