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2015 UNHCR country operations profile - Egypt

| Overview |

Working environment

UNHCR 2015 Egypt country operations map

  • Egypt is a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, and the 1969 OAU Convention. Nevertheless, as the country has not yet developed national asylum procedures and institutions, UNHCR carries out the functional responsibilities for all aspects of registration, documentation and refugee status determination (RSD) under the 1954 memorandum of understanding with the Government of Egypt.

  • Continued instability in Egypt has affected the protection environment for refugees and asylum-seekers and is likely to continue in 2015, with increased reliance on UNHCR for assistance programmes and protection interventions, including for legal residency and against arbitrary arrest, deportation and harassment.

  • While the Government grants some access to public primary health care and education, specialized public care for chronic illnesses and rehabilitative interventions is not available to people of concern, nor are various national public insurance schemes. The absorption capacity in state schools remains an issue due to overcrowding and teacher shortages.

  • In a strained political and socioeconomic environment, where refugees and asylum-seekers are finding it difficult to make ends meet, Egypt is likely to see a growing number taking risks to reach Europe via sea, through smuggling and trafficking networks.

  • An increasing number of asylum-seekers from South Sudan and Sudan have been registered by UNHCR in Egypt.

  • The Office has reached an agreement with the Egyptian authorities on the transfer of several hundred refugees and asylum-seekers from Salloum Camp (near the Egyptian-Libyan border) to Cairo, pending departure for resettlement or other durable solutions.

People of concern

In 2015, the main groups of people of concern to UNHCR are refugees from the Syrian Arab Republic (Syria) and other refugees and asylum-seekers in urban areas, including: Sudanese who escaped violence in various regions of Sudan; South Sudanese fleeing the latest internal conflict that began in December 2013, as well as those who have been in Egypt for decades; Somali refugees who fled the security situation in their country; Eritrean refugees who sought asylum due to human rights abuses or forced conscription; Ethiopian refugees who have fled political persecution; and Iraqi refugees.

UNHCR 2015 planning figures for Egypt
Type of population Origin January 2015 December 2015
Total in country Of whom assisted
Total in country Of whom assisted
Total 267,820 197,820 250,600 179,600
Refugees Somalia 6,300 6,300 7,000 7,000
Sudan 15,000 15,000 19,000 19,000
Syrian Arab Rep. 140,000 140,000 120,000 120,000
Various 79,600 9,600 82,200 11,200
Asylum-seekers Ethiopia 2,900 2,900 2,810 2,810
Somalia 1,800 1,800 1,400 1,400
Sudan 15,500 15,500 12,060 12,060
Various 6,700 6,700 6,100 6,100
Stateless Stateless 20 20 20 20

| Response |

Needs and strategies

In 2015, UNHCR will focus on providing protection for refugees and asylum-seekers living in Egypt by: conducting registration on an individual basis, according to UNHCR standards; undertaking RSD; and pursuing durable solutions where feasible.

Protecting refugees from violence and exploitation, particularly by enhancing sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) response measures, will be a priority objective for the Office.

Moreover, given the challenging protection and operational environment, UNHCR will continue working closely with legal partners in 2015 and put particular emphasis on advocacy and communication to prevent a further deterioration in the way people of concern are perceived.

Throughout the year, together with the concerned authorities, the organization will work to prevent refoulement, raise issues related to arbitrary detention and ensure due process of law for crime victims among the refugee population.

UNHCR, with its partners, will financially assist the most vulnerable refugees and strengthen livelihoods activities and microfinance schemes targeting this group in particular.

The organization will also maintain its government training programme, enlarging the target audience to include the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Social Solidarity in policy discussions.

| Implementation |


UNHCR will continue to work closely with the Refugee Affairs Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of the Interior, as well as with other line ministries.

It will maintain its close partnership with international and national NGOs, and also pursue efforts to diversify its local partners. The organization will expand cooperation with the main universities in Cairo, and continue working closely with other UN agencies and the League of Arab States.

2015 UNHCR partners in Egypt
Implementing partners
Government agencies: Ministry of Education
NGOs: Arab Council Supporting Fair Trials and Human Rights, Arab Medical Union, Arab Organisation for Human Rights, CARE International - USA, Caritas Egypt, Catholic Relief Services, Egyptian Foundation for Refugee Rights, Mahmoud Society, Refuge Egypt, Resala Charity Organisation, Save the Children, Terre des Hommes
Others: American University in Cairo, British Council, Psycho-Social Services and Training Institute in Cairo, Souriyat Association, Tadamon, UN Habitat, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNOPS, UNV
Operational partners
Government agencies: Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Refugee Affairs Department), Ministry of Housing, Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Local Development, Ministry of Social Solidarity, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Ministry of Education
NGOs: AMERA Legal Aid
Others: Baladilab Studio, FARD Foundation, International Development Support and Consulting, IOM, Man Ahyaha, OCHA, Oecumene Studio, Sacred Heart Church, St. Andrew's Refugee Services, Takween Integrated Development, WFP, WHO

| Financial information |

Over the last two years, the Egypt operation's budget has steadily increased following the influx of Syrian refugees. The comprehensive needs for 2015 are estimated at USD 85.2 million.

Ongoing developments in Iraq and Syria may affect these financial requirements in the course of 2015 in light of current assessments of needs of people displaced by the conflicts in these countries. Any changes in requirements will be presented in the 2015 Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) for the Syria situation or in a supplementary appeal for the Iraq situation.

Source: UNHCR Global Appeal 2015 Update

UNHCR contact information

The UNHCR Representation in Egypt
Style of Address The UNHCR Regional Representative in Egypt
Street Address 17th Mekka El Mokrama Street, 3rd proximity , 7th District ., Behind 6th of October Club ., 6 October City - Egypt, Cairo, Egypt
Mailing Address 17th Mekka El Mokrama Street, 3rd proximity , 7th District, 6 October City, Cairo, Egypt
Telephone 20 2 383 57 509
Facsimile 20 2 383 55 762
Time Zone GMT + 2
Working Hours
Monday:08:30 - 15:30
Tuesday:08:30 - 15:30
Wednesday:08:30 - 15:30
Thursday:08:30 - 15:30
Sunday:08:30 - 15:30
Public Holidays 07 January 2016, Coptic Christmas
01 May 2016, Easter Coptic
02 May 2016, Sham El Nessim
06 July 2016, Eid Al-Fitr
07 July 2016, Eid Al-Fitr
11 September 2016, Eid Al-Adha
12 September 2016, Eid Al-Adha
02 October 2016, Higira Day
11 December 2016, Prophet's birthday
25 December 2016, Christmas Day



UNHCR contact information

Statistical Snapshot*
* As at June 2015
  1. Country or territory of asylum or residence.
  2. Persons recognized as refugees under the 1951 UN Convention/1967 Protocol, the 1969 OAU Convention, in accordance with the UNHCR Statute, persons granted a complementary form of protection and those granted temporary protection. It also includes persons in a refugee-like situation for whom refugee status has, for practical or other reasons, not been ascertained. In the absence of Government figures, UNHCR has estimated the refugee population in many industrialized countries based on 10 years of individual asylum-seeker recognition.
  3. Persons whose applications for asylum or refugee status are pending as at 30 June 2015 at any stage in the asylum procedure.
  4. Refugees who have returned to their place of origin during the first half of 2015. Source: country of origin and asylum.
  5. Persons who are displaced within their country and to whom UNHCR extends protection and assistance. It also includes people in IDP-like situations. This category is descriptive in nature and includes groups of persons who are inside their country of nationality or habitual residence and who face protection risks similar to those of IDPs but who, for practical or other reasons, could not be reported as such.
  6. IDPs protected/assisted by UNHCR who have returned to their place of origin during the first half of 2015.
  7. Refers to persons who are not considered as nationals by any State under the operation of its law. This category refers to persons who fall under the agency's statelessness mandate because they are stateless according to this international definition, but data from some countries may also include persons with undetermined nationality.
  8. Refers to individuals who do not necessarily fall directly into any of the other groups but to whom UNHCR may extend its protection and/or assistance services. These activities might be based on humanitarian or other special grounds.
The data are generally provided by Governments, based on their own definitions and methods of data collection.
A dash (-) indicates that the value is zero, not available or not applicable.

Source: UNHCR/Governments.
Compiled by: UNHCR, FICSS.
Residing in Egypt [1]
Refugees [2] 226,344
Asylum Seekers [3] 30,019
Returned Refugees [4] 0
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) [5] 0
Returned IDPs [6] 0
Stateless Persons [7] 21
Various [8] 0
Total Population of Concern 256,384
Originating from Egypt [1]
Refugees [2] 16,105
Asylum Seekers [3] 10,415
Returned Refugees [4] 0
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) [5] 0
Returned IDPs [6] 0
Various [8] 48
Total Population of Concern 26,568
Government Contributions to UNHCR
Contributions since 2000
2014 0
2013 0
2012 0
2011 25,000
2010 25,000
2009 0
2008 0
2007 0
2006 0
2005 0
2004 0
2003 0
2002 0
2001 0
2000 0
Private Sector Contributions to UNHCR
Contributions since 2006
2014 0
2013 45,806
2012 0
2011 0
2010 0
2009 0
2008 0
2007 0
2006 0

Egypt UNHCR Fundraising Reports Rss FeedUNHCR Fundraising Reports

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Crisis in Libya

UNHCR is working with the Tunisian and Egyptian authorities and aid groups to manage the dramatic influx of tens of thousands of people fleeing Libya. By the beginning of March, two weeks after the violence erupted in Libya, more than 140,000 people had fled to the neighbouring countries, while thousands more were waiting to cross. Most are Egyptian and Tunisian nationals, though small numbers of Libyans and other nationalities are managing to escape. UNHCR is particularly concerned about thousands of refugees and other foreigners trapped inside Libya, especially people from sub-Saharan Africa. The following photo essay gives a glimpse into what is happening at the borders.

Crisis in Libya

On the Border: Stuck in Sallum

After violence erupted in Libya in February last year, tens of thousands of people began streaming into Egypt at the Sallum border crossing. Most were Egyptian workers, but almost 40,000 third country nationals also turned up at the border and had to wait until they could be repatriated. Today, with the spotlight long gone, a group of more than 2,000 people remain, mainly single young male refugees from the Sudan. But there are also women, children and the sick and elderly waiting for a solution to their situation. Most are likely to be resettled in third countries, but those who arrived after October are not being considered for resettlement, while some others have been rejected for refugee status. They live in tough conditions at the Egyptian end of the border crossing. A site for a new camp in no man's land has been identified. UNHCR, working closely with the border authorities, plays the major role in providing protection and assistance.

On the Border: Stuck in Sallum

Growing Numbers of Syrians Seek Refuge in Egypt

Since the Syrian crisis erupted in March 2011, more than 1.6 million Syrians have fled their homeland to escape the fighting. Most have sought shelter in countries neighbouring Syria - Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. But a significant number have made their way to Egypt in recent months. They are coming by air from Lebanon after leaving Syria, and also by sea. Since March, UNHCR has been registering about 2,000 a week. To date, almost 80,000 have registered as refugees, with half of them women and children. UNHCR believes there may be many more and the refugee agency is reaching out to these people so that they can receive vital protection and assistance and get access to basic services. The Syrians are staying with host families or renting apartments, mainly in urban centres such as Cairo, Sixth of October City, Alexandria and Damietta. The refugees heading to Egypt say they are attracted by its open door policy for Syrian refugees and by the lower rents and living costs. The following photographs were taken by Shawn Baldwin.

Growing Numbers of Syrians Seek Refuge in Egypt

Stuck at the Egyptian border

Some three weeks after the Libyan displacement crisis erupted in mid-February, thousands of people were still stuck at the border between Libya and Egypt waiting for onward travel to their home countries. Many have arrived exhausted at the Sallum crossing after travelling for days without adequate food or water. Some told harrowing tales of armed men going door to door at night, forcing people from sub-Saharan Africa to leave after destroying their identity papers and taking their money.

More long-haul flights to Bangladesh and other Asian destinations are needed to decongest the border, although people from countries like Eritrea and Somalia cannot go home. As a result, many people have been stuck at the border for days, sleeping outside in the cold. UNHCR has provided blankets, plastic mats, food and water for those waiting to be repatriated.

More than 100,000 people have arrived at the Sallum border since the start of the Libyan uprising. The majority have been migrant workers from Egypt who were allowed through immigration and customs quickly, but many nationalities have also turned up at the border and having to wait.

Stuck at the Egyptian border

Egypt: Seeking SafetyPlay video

Egypt: Seeking Safety

Amid the ebb and flow of fighting in eastern Libya, a steady stream of people continues to seek shelter in Egypt and other neighbouring countries. They tell their stories.
Egypt: Stranded at the BorderPlay video

Egypt: Stranded at the Border

Thousands of people are stranded at Egypt's Sallum border crossing with Libya. Many of them are migrant workers, like these exhausted Bangladeshi men.
Egypt: Egyptians Cross Back HomePlay video

Egypt: Egyptians Cross Back Home

A steady stream of people have been crossing into Egypt from Libya. These migrant workers were elated to return home.