The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) works in Egypt with the Egyptian government, represented by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, to raise awareness of refugee problems and highlight Egypt as a host country for thousands of refugees and asylum seekers to help the Egyptian government absorb and support the growing numbers. Both parties will soon launch plans for Syrian, African, and Yemeni refugees.
The UNHCR in Egypt received 50,228 refugees in 2017 and settled 1,932 of them, and also provided education grants to 37,000 students.
Christine Beshay, the UNHCR’s liaison officer, said that 227,077 refugees of 58 different nationalities were registered with the UNHCR through 30 April 2018.
She noted that the most refugees in Egypt are from Syria, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and South Sudan.
She added that the UNHCR is working on the programme for refugees, and implementing the idea of integration, where the UNHCR has provided training workshops for skills development.
She explained that the UNHCR, through its partners, provides grants for migrants to undertake microenterprises to earn a living and cover their basic needs.
Syrian and Sudanese refugee children have the right to enrol in Egyptian public schools. For other nationalities, the UNHCR provides them with scholarships to help their families and enrol them in private schools. The UNHCR works seriously with the Ministry of Education to study the possibility of integrating all refugee and asylum-seeking children into public schools.
As for the file of applications by some refugees to move to other regions instead of Egypt, she explained that Egypt hosts over 227,000 refugees, of whom 2% are resettled.
In 2017, 1,932 refugees were resettled from Egypt, which is well under 1%. “Resettlement is not a right, but rather an alternative solution available to a very limited number of refugees and therefore can be considered only in the groups most in need of protection,” she said.
According to the UNHCR, the countries receiving the refugees have the final decision on resettlement, while the UNHCR makes proposals for resettlement according to needs.
She noted that refugees could not apply for resettlement or choose a country for resettlement. If a refugee complies with the objective criteria for resettlement, they will be contacted by the UNHCR.
The UNCHR noted that all services are free. A specific time for the resettlement process cannot be determined because it is not really a right.
She stressed Egypt’s policy against the idea of camps on its territory and allowing refugees to access the services provided by the state on an equal footing as Egyptians.
She said that the UNHCR continues to provide primary healthcare, emergency care, specialised care, and chronic disease care in cooperation with the Ministry of Health and local partners through the memoranda of understanding signed by the UNHCR with the Ministry of Health worth $2m.
Donations were made in the form of modern medical equipment, including early detection devices for breast tumours, 70 beds, intensive care units, and respirators, with the processing of a number of health facilities in various governorates for the benefit of both Egyptian citizens and the refugees.
The UNHCR’s programmes in Egypt include registration and documentation of asylum seekers, legal services through legal partners, limited financial assistance to refugees and asylum seekers most in need, andeducational grants for refugee and asylum-seeking families with children enrolled in schools and applying for them.
Food aid is also provided by the World Food Programme to the Syrian refugees most in need who are registered with the UNHCR.
It also supports community centres for asylum seekers and refugees, which provide many social, cultural, and educational activities for them and their children.
The UNHCR also provides other services to refugees and asylum seekers who have suffered severe conditions in their countries of origin or during their journey to the host country. In that regard, the office provides legal services and psychosocial support to victims of physical violence, gender-based violence, and vulnerable groups, such as unaccompanied children, the elderly, persons with special needs, and other groups through its specialised partners.