Syrian doctors running Cairo clinic arrested and detained

Hazel Haddon, Thursday 9 Jan 2014

Health clinic in 6 October was allegedly operating without correct documentation

Syrian refugees
Children play football outside a residential block in 6 October City outside Cairo (Photo: UNHCR/S.Baldwin)

A group of Syrian medical professionals were arrested by Egyptian police on Wednesday on charges of running a clinic without the required licences, sources within the Syrian community told Ahram Online.

Thirteen Syrian medical professionals, including both doctors and nurses, were arrested at Nokhba medical centre in 6 October City, just outside Cairo, on charges of operating with expired licences. One elderly male detainee and all six female detainees were released on Thursday, while the other six people were held overnight at a local police station, the sources told Ahram Online. All thirteen were referred to the prosecution on Thursday.

Two other Syrians who worked at the centre in an administrative capacity were released without charge on Wednesday.

A spokesman for the Egypt branch of the UN’s refugee agency confirmed that a number of Syrian staff at the medical centre had been arrested and said that the UN was following up on the case, but was unable to provide further details. 

Egypt currently hosts an estimated 300,000 Syrians who have fled conflict in their homeland, although not all Syrians residents choose to seek formal refugee status during their time in Egypt. It is unclear whether any of those arrested hold refugee status.

Following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last July, new restrictions were put in place for Syrians entering Egypt, requiring them to apply for visas and security clearance prior to entry. Community representatives say that many Syrians in Egypt have since faced difficulties when trying to renew their residency permits.

6 October, a satellite city located immediately outside Cairo, is home to a large community of Syrian arrivals. Sina Network, an independent Egyptian refugee advocacy group, visited the Nokhba centre in November last year. The centre “meets the many needs of the Syrian refugee community, as regular health care is expensive,” a representative of the group told Ahram Online.

The clinic has different sections, including primary healthcare, women’s health, and radiology, and the staff are “professional, qualified Syrian doctors and nurses,” added the Sina Network.

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