Egypt claims hostage reports 'fabricated'

Egypt continues to dispute that large numbers of Eritrean migrants are being held hostage in Sinai by human traffickers. 

On Tuesday, foreign ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki 
described the reports as "fabrications" concocted by "dubious organisations" to stir up public opinion in Europe.

"We called on whoever has any information to present it to the Egyptian authorities," Zaki said, "but no one ever presented any information, so what shall we do?"

The foreign ministry is not telling the truth, according to Matteo Pegoraro, of EveryOneGroup, an Italian-based human rights group, quoted in al-Masry al-Youm.

Pegoraro insisted that Egypt has been provided with "all the information necessary" to locate the hostages.

They are being held on the outskirts of Rafah, inside a house near a government building, surrounded by a fruit orchard, next to a large mosque and a church that has been turned into a school, he told the paper.

In a statement on its website, EveryOneGroup says it has also provided Egypt with the mobile phone numbers of some of the traffickers, as well as the names of two of the guards.

"But in spite of this detailed description, the authorities have not lifted a finger," Pegoraro said.

Posted by Brian Whitaker, 17 Dec 2010.