UNHCR Egypt and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina have been working together to include refugees and asylum-seekers in several activities side by side with Egyptians.
The United Nations Refugee Agency in Egypt (UNHCR) and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Tuesday to renew their cooperation.
The event was attended by government officials, representatives of the diplomatic community, donor countries, United Nations agencies, non-governmental organisations, Egyptian civil society, media, and the private sector.
During the past four years, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina and UNHCR Egypt worked together to include refugees and asylum-seekers in several cultural, educational, artistic and social activities side by side with Egyptians in order to promote sharing of knowledge and community cohesion. Activities carried out encompassed “Refugees got Talent”, with different musical performances from Syria, Sudan and South Sudan as part of 2017 World Refugee Day celebrations; and the “Heya Campaign”, with the participation of Syrian refugee women who shared their stories of resilience and success to mark the International Women’s Day. Most recently, around 100 refugee youth of different nationalities took part in the Bibliotheca’s “SAWA” Project which focuses on promoting voluntarism and community-based initiatives.
“Bibliotheca Alexandrina offers precious opportunities to refugees and asylum-seekers. Projects and activities in which refugees participate allow them to develop their skills and talents alongside their Egyptian peers,” said Mr. Karim Atassi, UNHCR Representative to Egypt and to the League of Arab States. “Refugees and asylum-seekers face numerous challenges in their daily lives. UNHCR works to support them and empower them,” Mr. Atassi added.
“Egypt prides itself on being home to millions of refugees, with Jesus Christ, the first refugee in Egypt in recorded history. Refugees live among Egyptians and not in refugee camps, as they are an integral part of our society,” said Dr Mostafa el Fekki, director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina.
Following the signing ceremony, Mr. Atassi and Dr. El Fekki opened a UNHCR photo exhibition titled “Then and Now – Refugee Voices in Egypt” which illustrates UNHCR’s work, the government’s generosity and Egyptian society’s hospitality toward refugees and asylum-seekers over the past six decades. The exhibition will be open to the public until 9 September at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Conference Center B1 Open Area). The photo exhibition was set up for the first time on the occasion of World Refugee Day celebration in Cairo in early July and is scheduled to tour other governorates in the coming period.
As of 31 July 2018, Egypt hosted more than 233,000 refugees and asylum-seekers from 58 countries who were registered with UNHCR, of which over 40,000 reside in Alexandria and the other northern governorates.
UNHCR Egypt’s work is made possible by the generous contributions of Canada, Denmark, the European Union, RDPP NA, Italy, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States of America, as well as private donors from Australia, Korea, Germany, Spain, Japan, Italy, and Sweden.