Campaigners have called on Egypt to immediately release a 17-year-old Somali refugee, who has been detained for nearly six months. Youssef Mohamed Aden was arrested in Egypt on July 6, 2015. A member of a small minority clan, he had fled home after his brother was killed by al-Shabab, an armed group linked to al-Qaeda.
The UN agency for children (UNICEF) has documented at least 25 children among the 50 total documented refugees currently detained in Egypt. “There is a noticeable decrease in the number of children in detention this time of the year,” Ahmad Hafez, a child protection consultant at UNICEF, told Al Jazeera, adding that the total number “reaches to more than 160 children in detention” during summer months.
“Most of these minors are usually unaccompanied, coming from the Horn of Africa, while Syrian children are usually with parents.” The average detention time for a child is between two weeks and a month, Hafez said. Aden, however, has been held for nearly six months. After being picked up by Egyptian police, he was placed in the Karmooz detention centre in Alexandria, according to a new report by the Sweden-based Centre for Refugee Solidarity.
With no passport or identification documents to prove his nationality, Egyptian authorities have been unable to deport him. Since his arrest, Aden has been subjected to several punitive measures, including having his cell phone confiscated, being threatened with deportation and not provided with legal counsel.