“I am deeply troubled by the fact that 8 out of 10 refugees in Egypt are living in desperate humanitarian conditions. They cannot meet even their most basic needs. Putting bread on the table is a daily challenge,” said on March 4 the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi.
Ongoing conflicts in Yemen and Sub-Saharan Africa have forced more people to flee to Egypt. Over the past two years the number of registered refugees and asylum seekers in Egypt has increased by 24 per cent.
Meanwhile, current refugee programmes in Egypt – which are meant to assist and protect a quarter of a million refugees, more than half of whom are Syrian with others from Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan and Yemen – are just 4% funded.
According to investigations by the local independent press in Egypt and international agencies, many refugees are rapidly sinking into debt and poverty, forced to resort to the most desperate measures to survive, including child labor, early marriages, or prostitution.
Without timely, predictable and flexible funding, UNHCR‘s essential protection activities for refugees and asylum seekers in Egypt are at risk, in particular the ability to sustain its protection programs for refugee children, who make up to 40 percent of refugees in Egypt, UNHCR said.
“The Egyptian government refused to establish refugee camps, but granted the refugees the freedom of movement inside the country,” said on September 19 2018, the Deputy Assistant of Foreign Ministry Dina al-Sihi, adding that the government also granted refugees health and education services.
Now, after five months, with the fall in funds available to UNHCR, the risk is that the government in Cairo will change its mind, while in the EU the discussion of reception policies continues on numbers that are much lower than those of countries such as Egypt that have much less economic availability.
by Christian Elia