June 20, 2013
Egypt's refugees find Syrian crisis brings new challenges and some hope
by Hazel Haddon
On World Refugee Day, Egypt has been praised for welcoming thousands of Syrians seeking refuge, but some African refugees are feeling left behind
Moataz, a 41-year-old Sudanese asylum seeker from Darfur, has called Egypt home for the last year, but it has not always been a welcoming one.
He worked in north Darfur for several years, until he started to have problems with the Sudanese government, who believed he was cooperating with local rebel groups. “I had to resign and come to Khartoum. I knew I was being followed,” he says.
He was then forced to flee Khartoum after delivering a speech at a women’s rights conference, in which he argued that girls should not be circumcised.
“While I was speaking at the conference, they came and took my kids. They took my two girls and circumcised them.
"They brought a letter, and they had doctors' uniforms. They said they came from the ministry of health. They had put my photo on a document, saying that I had agreed to do that,” Moataz says. “When they brought them back they gave my wife a message: Tell your husband he shouldn’t talk about these things.”
His daughters were two and six when they were forcibly circumcised. After the incident, he fled with his family to Egypt and claimed asylum.