Situated along the central Mediterranean refugee route, Egypt hosts refugees in some of the poorest neighbourhoods of its largest cities. Roughly half of them are Syrian, with others mostly coming from the Horn of Africa, Sudan, and South Sudan. They face the challenges of a protracted refugee situation in an impoverished urban setting.
What are the needs?
Refugees and asylum seekers in Egypt rely heavily on humanitarian assistance. They often reside in overcrowded neighbourhoods, where the host community also struggles with substandard living conditions and high unemployment rates.
Some 32.5% of Egyptians live below the national poverty line. According to the UN Refugee Agency, this percentage is even higher among refugees (84%). Access to basic services such as health care and education is extremely challenging for refugees and asylum seekers.
The continued influx of refugees and migrants coincides with Egypt’s worst economic recession in decades. Dramatic price increases for food and utilities are worsening living conditions for the most vulnerable population.
Refugees from African countries also face linguistic barriers, harassment, and discrimination. This further limits their access to formal education and contributes to their marginalisation.
Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, many refugees and asylum seekers have lost their livelihoods and are unable to provide for their families or pay rent. The pandemic has also worsened the stigmatisation and discrimination suffered by refugees, especially of sub-Saharan origin.
How are we helping?
In 2021, the EU provided €5 million to help the most vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers in Egypt. EU humanitarian funding covers 3 main sectors: basic needs, education in emergencies, and protection.
We also allocated an additional €1 million to strengthen the COVID-19 response, bringing the overall funding to €6 million in 2021.
Around 38% of all refugees and asylum seekers in Egypt are children. There has been a sharp increase in unaccompanied minors and separated children among the recent arrivals. Strengthening core protection activities for the most vulnerable, such as these minors, remains a high priority for EU humanitarian assistance.
The EU also provides cash to refugees in acute vulnerability to cover their basic needs. It also helps refugee children go to school by reducing the existing barriers.
These barriers may be academic, financial, institutional or social. The support for educational activities focuses on primary and secondary school levels in both public and refugee community schools.
With lockdown measures disrupting the operations of international aid agencies, refugees who depend on humanitarian assistance are among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. To address the deteriorating health and economic conditions, the EU is supporting prevention and protection measures.
The European Commission is providing €100 million in humanitarian assistance to support the rollout of COVID-19 vaccination campaigns in countries in Africa with critical humanitarian needs and fragile health systems. Of this funding, €1 million is supporting vaccination campaigns for refugees and vulnerable migrants in Egypt.
Last updated: 13/12/2021
Picture: © European Union (photographer: Peter Biro)
Facts & figures
More than 266,000 registered refugees, including:
- 135,000 Syrians
- 51,000 Sudanese
- 20,000 South Sudanese
- 20,000 Eritreans
- 15,000 Ethiopians
- 25,000 from other nationalities
(UNHCR, October 2021)
EU humanitarian funding:
€27.9 million since 2015, including
over €6 million in 2021.