Financial help and medical support programme for refugees in Egypt

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards to whom quoted text may be attributed at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Yesterday UNHCR's partner, Caritas, began distributing financial help and offering medical support to refugees in Cairo who are particularly vulnerable at this time. Their offices are situated close to Tahrir square so another NGO, Refuge Egypt, has offered their premises in an easier to access area.

During this period in which all UN offices closed for security reasons, many of our staff continue to work from home. UNHCR has established a hotline for refugees, which has been in regular use. The numbers have been circulated via social media and through NGO and community networks. We have met partner NGOs to coordinate the resumption of our protection and assistance programmes as of this week. We are also in regular contact with 16 refugee leaders and their networks to find ways to support refugees who are facing problems.

We have received a number of calls since we opened the hotline at the end of January. Examples of calls we received include a handicapped Somali refugee who fled to the airport. Working with community leaders, we arranged for her to be cared for by a Somali family. We have heard many accounts from refugees of the kindness of their Egyptian neighbours. Several families are living with their Egyptian neighbours after their homes were looted.

We are communicating with refugees via NGO partners, refugee representatives, our hotline, community leaders and psycho-social workers. This communication includes information on where they can receive medical support and what to do in an emergency.