One year old refugee child dies inside an Egyptian Prison
Galila was a one year old child of Ethiopian nationality.  She was born in harsh conditions in Ethiopia and fled that country as an infant with her mother, Mrs. Medhine – both were seeking a safer place, asylum and a better life.  Instead, she suffered prolonged detention and ultimately death in an Egyptian prison.

Her problems began more than six months ago when her mother was arrested and detained for illegal entry into Egypt.  This arrest occurred despite Egypt’s obligations under Article 31(1) of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees not to punish refugees
for illegally entering the country.  In violation of Egypt’s obligations she was detained with her mother in El Quanater Prison with her daughter (one year old). Ironically, as refugees, they were detained in conditions even more severe than those they had fled in Ethiopia.

After suffering from days of diarrhea and vomiting, Galila died last week inside El Quanater Prison.  She died in custody and without access to medical care as there is no medical care inside the prison for the prisoners and her mother’s pleas to be allowed out of prison to seek medical care for her sick daughter were denied.  Galila’s mother remains detained and distraught over the loss of her daughter. She lost her daughter, who died in front of her eyes, without being
able to do any thing for her.

For months, EFRR has been demanding access to Galila and her mother. We have been demanding her release and her resettlement in Australia (where they both have family); an application for resettlement has been pending for some time.  She has also been denied access to UNHCR.

Since the death of Galila, EFRR has submitted a complaint to the High General Prosecutor asking for an investigation into the wrong-doing that led to Galila’s death.  EFRR appeals to the Egyptian Authorities to release Mrs. Medhine immediately from El Quanater Prison.  EFRR also demands that steps be taken to improve the access of refugees to counsel, to UNHCR and to medical care while in detention.   In our view, the death of Galila was a tragedy that is directly attributable to the severe neglect of her health by Egyptian authorities.

Galila died on 27 September 2009 in El Quanater Prison in Egypt.  She had been detained in contravention to international law for more than 6 months.  Galila died before her 2nd birthday, missing the great dream of her mother for refuge.  Galila and her mother sought asylum
in Egypt.  In return, as an infant, she was arrested, detained and, ultimately, killed by the indifference of Egyptian authorities to her well-being.

We join the extended family of Galila, her mother Mrs. Medhine and those individuals who helped seek her freedom and her care before her death in mourning her loss.  We now seek justice for her mother and all other refugees in detention.

The Egyptian Foundation for Refugee Rights
Address: 94 Mohamed Fared St., Second Floor Downtown
CAIRO – Egypt
Tell/ Fax: 002 02 23910491
Email: [email protected]