Egypt is a country along the central Mediterranean refugee route with people arriving from both the Middle East and East Africa. A growing number of them are stranded in the poorest and most overcrowded neighbourhoods of Egypt’s largest cities: Cairo, Giza, and Alexandria. More than half of all registered refugees in Egypt are from Syria. EU humanitarian aid programmes benefit the most vulnerable refugees irrespective of their nationality as well as the communities that host them.
Egypt continues to see a steady increase of refugees and migrants. More than 2,279 refugees were registered in January 2020, 25% of them Syrians.
These recently arrived refugees and asylum seekers end up in megacities alongside previously arrived refugees and migrants. Most refugees heavily rely on humanitarian assistance. They live in overcrowded and impoverished neighbourhoods where local communities are already struggling with difficult living conditions and high unemployment. Access to basic services such as healthcare and education is challenging. According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), 84% of the refugees are vulnerable and live below the poverty line.
The influx of refugees and migrants coincides with Egypt’s worst economic recession in decades. This has led to dramatic price rises for food and utilities, making life even tougher for those at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder. In addition, refugees from African countries have limited access to formal education and suffer linguistic barriers and discrimination, further contributing to their marginalisation.
European Union humanitarian aid targets Syrian refugees, but also the most vulnerable among other refugees and host communities. The EU’s humanitarian funds focus on 3 main sectors: protection, healthcare and education in emergencies.
Around 38% of all refugees and asylum-seekers in Egypt are children (almost 100,000). There has been a sharp increase of unaccompanied minors and separated children among the new arrivals. Strengthening core protection activities for the most vulnerable such as these minors remains a top priority of EU humanitarian aid. The EU also provides the neediest refugees with cash for basic expenditures.
Other EU humanitarian programmes enable refugees without financial means to access emergency health services, particularly maternal and reproductive healthcare. Vulnerable people who are part of the communities that host the refugees can also benefit from these services.
In the field of education, EU humanitarian funding helps the most vulnerable refugee children get into formal schooling by reducing the barriers to education. These barriers may be academic, financial, institutional, or social and emotional, in addition to other obstacles children face as refugees. The support for educational activities focuses on primary and secondary school levels.