GENEVA, February 13, 2018 (WAFA) - The distressing situation of Palestinians stuck on both sides of the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt and inside Cairo airport following the Egyptian authorities’ decision to close the crossing for passengers traveling in and out of Gaza constitutes a tragedy to many of stranded patients and students, the Euro-Mediterranean (Euro-Med) Human Rights Monitor warned on Tuesday.
It said that following opening of the crossing for three days last week after about 50 days of closure, travel was abruptly suspended due to Egyptian military campaign in the Sinai, which led to holding hundreds of passengers returning to the Gaza Strip at Cairo airport, as well as on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing.
More than 400 Palestinians found themselves held in closed halls at Cairo Airport after the sudden closure of the crossing and the airport security informed them to return to the countries they flew from. The passengers appealed to the Egyptian authorities and the Palestinian embassy in Cairo to hasten their return back to the Gaza Strip or find a solution to end their suffering at the unbearable cells and rooms at Cairo airport.
Euro-Med said it received several statements from a number of stranded Palestinians at Cairo airport saying that security personnel at the airport were holding about 100 people, mostly patients, students and children, in one room, without providing them with food, drink or sleeping blankets. Most of them now cannot afford to buy food.
According to the Euro-Med, another 200 people, mostly patients, children and elderly, were trapped only a kilometer away from the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing while military confrontation with militants and ambushes are only a few kilometers away from them.
Euro-Med called on the Egyptian authorities to hasten the opening of Rafah crossing for the entry of stranded people near the crossing and to provide them with the necessary humanitarian aid as soon as possible.
It also called on the Palestinian embassy in Cairo to cooperate with the Egyptian authorities to meet the needs of hundreds stranded Palestinians at Cairo airport, to find suitable places for them to stay and to coordinate with embassies of other countries to resolve the issue of expired visas of long-stranded Palestinians at the airport.