CAIRO, (Reuters) – The U.N. refugee agency in Cairo has broken off talks with thousands of Sudanese protesters camped outside its building because they are making impossible demands, a U.N. official said on Thursday.
The office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said talks had failed because it could not satisfy protester demands to be resettled outside Egypt. The agency said it was up to the Egyptian government to find a solution.
Hundreds of armed police stood near the camp, where between 1,500 and 3,000 Sudanese have camped for months in the open. Up to 11 have died, and some went on hunger strike last month.
"We have seen no movement, therefore there is nothing to be done, no more to be said," UNHCR Assistant Regional Representative Damtew Dessalegne told a news conference.
"They simply cannot demand to go to the United States or Canada simply because they do not like life in Egypt," he added.
Protest leaders signed a deal with the UNHCR on Saturday to end the sit-in, but those in the camp rejected it, saying they had not been consulted. The UNHCR had offered financial assistance and a review of their asylum claims.
Sudanese citizens in Egypt have the right to work, healthcare and education, and movement between Egypt and Sudan is relatively easy so the UNHCR must focus on on resettling those genuinely facing persecution, the UNHCR said.
Some of the Sudanese are from the western region of Darfur, where tens of thousands of people have been killed and two million were driven from their homes since 2003 by fighting between mostly non-Arab rebels and the Islamist government.
Others are among the 4 million Sudanese who were displaced during a north-south civil war that lasted over 20 years.
A peace deal ended that conflict in January, allowing many Sudanese to return home. But some protesters said returning was unsafe as the deal is fragile.