KHARTOUM, Sudan — Sudan said Saturday that Egyptian authorities have arrested 70 Sudanese nationals while they were attempting to enter Israel, detaining them in a Cairo prison.
Sudanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ghareeb Allah Khidi said in a report on the SUNA news agency that the Sudanese embassy is maintaining contact with Egyptian security authorities to follow up on the status and treatment of the detainees.
Egyptian authorities several months ago reportedly shot dead at least 10 Sudanese nationals who were trying to cross the Egyptian border into Israel. African migrants frequently attempt to cross the Sinai peninsula and reach Israel, where they often surrender to Israeli authorities.
Israeli official figures show nearly 47,000 illegal immigrants are currently residing in Israel, almost all from Eritrea and Sudan. Most live in the poorer neighborhoods of southern Tel Aviv, with some blaming them for rising crime rates in the city.
Israel has in recent years sought to limit the migrants’ numbers. It has built a fence along the border with Egypt, a once-common migration route, and sent many migrants to the Holot detention facility in the Negev Desert — and in some cases back to third-party countries in Africa.
Many say they are fleeing conflict and persecution and are seeking refugee status. Israeli officials contend they are economic migrants, and have resisted calls to recognize them as refugees.
Israel’s approval ratings for refugee status are drastically lower than international levels. According to the United Nation’s High Commissioner for Refugees, internationally, 84 percent of Eritreans and 56 percent of Sudanese asylum seekers received either refugee status or extended protection in 2014.