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Urban refugees in Cairo



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Photo: René de Cock
Urban Refugees in Cairo
Elżbieta M. Goździak and Alissa Walter
Georgetown University
Center for Contemporary Arab Studies
Institute for the Study of International Migration
This research was conducted with the generous nancial
support of the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration
(BPRM) in the U.S. Department of State. We are grateful to Ms.
Sarah Cross, our project ocer at BPRM, for her dedication to this
project. Our heartfelt appreciation goes to our team members
on the ground in Cairo, particularly Dr. Ray Jureidini and Ms.
Emilie Minnick, as well as our refugee research assistants who
wish to remain anonymous. We would not have been able to
complete this project without you. Many thanks to the sta
members of UNHCR, BPRM and UNHCR implementing partners,
and other service providers who gave generously of their time
and knowledge. We wish to express our admiration to for all
the refugees in Cairo whose experiences of displacement and
coping with formidable challenges are inspiring. Thank you for
sharing your stories! And last but not least, we want to thank
each other and our copy-editor extraordinaire Nina Laufbahn.
Table of Contents
Executive Summary 4
Chapter 1: Setting the Scene 5
1.1 Refugees in Egypt 5
1.2 The Study 6
1.3 Methodology 6
1.4 Organization of the Report 9
Chapter 2: Legal and Policy Frameworks 10
2.1 The Evolution of UNHCR-Egypt’s Policy on Urban Refugees 10
2.2 Legal and Policy Frameworks for Refugees 10
2.3 Legal Frameworks for Human Rights Protection 12
2.4 Trends in Durable Solutions 13
2.5 Protection Threats: Before the Revolution 14
2.5 Protection Threats: After the Revolution 14
2.6 Recommendations 16
Chapter 3: Refugee Livelihoods 17
3.1 Access to Employment 17
3.2 Vulnerability of Domestic Workers 18
3.3 Financial Assets: Savings and Remittances 19
3.4 Cash Assistance 19
3.4 Housing Costs and Living 20
3.6 Recommendations 22
Chapter 4: Education 25
4.1 Access to Primary Education 25
4.2 Access to Secondary Education 27
4.3 Access to Higher Education 27
4.4 Recommendations 28
Chapter 5: Access to Quality Aordable Healthcare 30
5.1 Health Insurance 30
5.2 Healthcare Services 30
5.3 Health Issues 32
5.4 The Eects of the Revolution
on Refugees’ Health and Well Being 35
5.5 Access to Healthcare 35
5.6 Eorts to Mainstream Refugee Healthcare 36
5.7 Recommendations 37
Chapter 6: Conclusions 39
References 40
Executive Summary
Executive Summary
Cairo, Egypt is home to one of the largest populations
of urban refugees in the world. In recent decades, waves
of refugees from Sudan, Iraq, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Palestine
and elsewhere have ed to Cairo hoping to nd third-
country resettlement, eventually return to their countries
of origin, or start a new life by integrating into Egyptian
society. For all of these refugees, the United Nations
High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is the primary
institution responsible for determining refugees’ status,
oering protection, and facilitating durable solutions.
Despite the many eorts of UNHCR, the Government of
Egypt, and numerous non-governmental organizations
(NGOs) to provide protection and assistance for these
various refugee populations in Cairo, numerous challenges
remain for these refugees in the areas of legal protection
and security, livelihoods, education, and healthcare.
UNHCR has adopted various strategies over the years to better
respond to refugees’ needs. One major initiative was UNHCR’s
1997 Policy Statement on Refugees in Urban Areas, which
stressed self-reliance for urban refugees. In 2009, UNHCR
issued a new policy on urban refugees aimed at increasing
protection for refugees in cities and at mainstreaming
refugees into national institutions when possible. This report
seeks to provide a preliminary evaluation of the impact of
the new 2009 policy while undertaking a comparative
analysis of the diering needs, experiences, and protection
gaps of Cairo’s many dierent refugee populations.
Our study is based on household interviews with both
refugee and local Egyptian populations, conducted in Cairo
between December 2010 and March 2011. Our research
team conducted 63 household interviews, distributed across
target populations: 49 per cent Iraqi refugee households,
22 per cent African refugee households, 32 per cent local
Egyptian households. Refugee or local Egyptian research
assistants trained and supervised by an on-the-ground team
member conducted all household interviews. Households
were asked open-ended questions about their past and
present experiences with safety, livelihoods, education,
and health; respondents interviewed after the Egyptian
Revolution in January 2011 were asked additional questions
about the impact of the revolution on their security and
ability to access basic services. Interviews were translated
and analyzed by our research team in Washington, DC.
In addition, our team conducted extensive interviews
with 16 stakeholders in Cairo, including with UNHCR,
international NGOs, Egyptian NGOs, and local community-
based organizations. These stakeholders represent
the main NGO-based refugee service providers.
Based on this data, this report makes the following
t Re-negotiate the 1954 MOU between UNHCR-Egypt
and the Government of Egypt
t Train law enforcement about refugee rights
t Re-interview Sudanese refugees with closed cases
t Train implementing partners in anti-discrimination and
cultural sensitivity
t Provide additional training for refugee and local
community networks and organizations
t Advocate with the Government of Egypt to extend the
right to work to all refugees
t Build protective elements into economic refugee
t Create roles for employment advocates and job
developers within refugee NGOs
t Work with the Egyptian government to allow
microcredit enterprises
t Track the employment of refugees
t Address negative economic strategies
t Expand economic development programs
t Streamline school admission requirements
t Build capacity in Egyptian public schools
t Provide training for Egyptian teachers and
administrators, as well as for refugee teachers
t Involve educated refugee adults to enhance capacity of
local schools
t Build additional schools to increase educational
capacity for refugees and Egyptians alike
t Involve UNICEF
t Provide additional educational training for adult
t Create a subsidized health care insurance plan for
t Partner with the Government of Iraq to form a special
fund for secondary and tertiary health care for Iraqis
t Mainstream refugees into the Egyptian health care
t Decentralize refugee health care
t Reformulate systems of mental health care for refugees
Chapter 1: Setting the Scene
More than half the refugees the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) serves now live in urban
areas. Egypt is among the top ve countries with the largest
number of urban refugees in the world and is one of only two
African countries that do not mandate that refugees reside
in camps (Sperl 2001; Zohry 2005). The majority of refugees
in Egypt live in the capital city of Cairo (Grabska 2005).
UNHCR developed its rst Policy Statement on Refugees in
Urban Areas in 1997, mainly to discourage urban settlement
due to the diculties of protecting and supporting
refugee populations in cities. At the time the 1997 Urban
Policy was written, UNHCR was struggling to adequately
respond to situations when refugees abandoned rural
camps and moved to cities, where they often lived in the
poorest neighborhoods, took menial jobs in the informal
economy in order to survive and were frequently arrested
or mistreated by the local authorities or attacked by the
host population (Chatelard 2011: 9). By and large, however,
UNHCR’s 1997 Urban Policy did not deter refugees from
moving to cities. Furthermore, its emphasis on self-reliance
did not adequately address the needs of urban refugees
in countries like Egypt, where refugees do not have the
right to work. As early as 2001, researchers like Sperl noted
the detrimental eect the 1997 policy had on refugees in
Cairo, who were simultaneously urged by UNHCR-Egypt to
become self-sucient and barred from legal employment
by the Government of Egypt. The result, in Sperl’s words, was
often “destitution.” In response to the various shortcomings
of the 1997 policy in Egypt and elsewhere, UNHCR issued
a new policy on urban refugees in 2009. In this new policy,
UNHCR argued that cities are a legitimate place of refuge
for those seeking asylum and committed itself to providing
protection to refugees in urban areas. This new policy
shifted its emphasis from self-reliance to mainstreaming
refugees into local institutions, noting the cost and ultimate
inability to sustain parallel, refugee-specic services.
Our research team began eldwork in Cairo in December
2010, which was a key moment of transition for both UNHCR-
Egypt and, on the eve of revolution, for the country as a
whole. Our eld data, collected between December 2010 and
March 2011, captures both the lingering ill eects of the old
1997 policy and the promise of new beginnings under a new
2009 UNHCR policy as well as a new Egyptian government.
Cairo is currently hosting large numbers of refugees
from Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Palestine and
elsewhere. Each refugee group in Egypt has a unique prole
based on its legal rights, wealth, education level, languages
spoken, length of time in Egypt and prospects for durable
solutions. We will explore these complexities and their
implications in greater depth below. In this report we focus
primarily on the Iraqi refugees residing in Cairo, Egypt,
whose situation is often quite distinct from that of African
refugees in Cairo. Iraq is a middle-income, oil-producing
country whose citizens at one time enjoyed quality social,
educational and healthcare services. When Iraqi refugees
began arriving in Cairo after 2003, many came from middle-
class communities, were well-educated and had adequate
nancial resources to cover their costs of living. While these
resources in many cases are running out after years of living
in Cairo, Iraqi refugees’ social and educational backgrounds
continue to set them apart from other refugees in Egypt.
In this report we focus on Iraqi refugees’ access to legal
protection, livelihoods, education and healthcare. We
contrast their situation with the circumstances of other
refugees settled in Cairo as well as with the situation of
the local population residing in the same neighborhoods.
Many of these refugee groups share the same unsustainability
of their current lives in Cairo, as durable solutions have been
elusive for many refugees. Many refugee populations have
lived in Egypt for more than ve years without “immediate
prospects for implementation of durable solutions, thus
constituting a “protracted” refugee crisis based on UNHCR
criteria (UNHCR 2009a). The prolonged stay in Cairo
endured by many refugees further indicates that neither
resettlement nor repatriation are viable durable solutions
for many of Cairo’s refugees. At the same time, refugees’
long-term residence in Cairo does not necessarily indicate
successful integration. Local integration is understood
to have three basic components: legal, economic and
socio-cultural. Legally, integration may be achieved when
refugees acquire a sucient amount of rights in their host
state to access the jobs, healthcare and education they need
to be self-sucient. Economically, integration is achieved
when refugees live at approximately the same standard of
living as members of their host community. Socially and
culturally, refugees have integrated when they participate in
the community life of their host country on an equal basis
as host country nationals (Fielden 2008). By these measures,
few refugees in Egypt have successfully integrated:
they lack access to the formal labor market, nearly all
seek health and educational services outside of local
Egyptian institutions and many suer from discrimination.
UNHCR-Egypt’s refugee services attempt to ameliorate
the integration challenges refugees face, but may also
inadvertently contribute to refugees’ separation from
mainstream Egyptian society by creating parallel refugee-
specic systems of care. UNHCR-Egypt and its implementing
partners have developed a wide range of programs to
meet the diverse needs of their refugee clients. While these
services have undoubtedly been essential for many refugees
in procuring livelihood support and accessing healthcare
and educational services, the support system as it stands
shows signs of strain in the face of a large and heterogeneous
refugee population dispersed throughout Cairo and vicinity.
Moreover, UNHCR’s 2009 Policy on Urban Refugees also
points to the cost and ultimate inability to sustain parallel,
refugee-specic health and educational programs outside
of mainstream local institutions. The strain of maintaining
parallel refugee systems is particularly evident in Egypt. At
the same time, any long-term solution put forth by UNHCR-
Egypt and its partners needs to take into account the fact that
Egyptian health and educational services are overstretched,
poorly funded and often of low quality, and that many
Egyptians also suer from the same conditions of poverty and
high rates of unemployment as do refugees. UNHCR-Egypt
has taken some promising steps towards mainstreaming
aspects of refugee health services, particularly during
and immediately after the 2011 Egyptian revolution. Our
CH1: Setting the Scene
research revealed new short- and long-term strategies for
continuing this mainstreaming trend in order to improve
refugees’ access to essential services, increase protection,
enhance prospects for local integration and reduce the
burden on current refugee-specic service providers.
The results of this study conrm conclusions other researchers
have made over the past decade (Sperl 2001; Grabska 2006,
2008; Kagan 2011); namely the best way forward is to
shift away from short-term programs and parallel service
delivery systems towards the practice of mainstreaming
refugees into Egyptian institutions and according them
rights enjoyed by Egyptian citizens, including the right
to work. As recommendations to mainstream refugees in
Egypt have been made for over 10 years with little progress
made, we are cognizant of the practical barriers and political
realities in Egypt that have made implementation of these
recommendations dicult. As our research indicates,
however, the current system of refugee-specic services is
inadequate in many respects and expensive to maintain,
and as such, drastic changes must be made. We argue
that the shift to mainstreaming must be accompanied by
the investment of development aid into improving and
expanding Egyptian healthcare and educational institutions
for the benets of both refugees and the local population.
The necessity of this shift is all the more clear in a city
like Cairo, where a relatively weak civil society and
resulting paucity of viable community-based partners
has hindered UNHCR-Egypt’s eorts to create a robust
and sustainable system of refugee-specic services. In
the ten years since Sperl’s study, the overall number of
refugees in Cairo has increased considerably and the
economic situation has worsened, further taxing refugee
services oered by non-governmental organizations. The
Egyptian revolution has negatively impacted the Egyptian
economy and security situation, worsening the living
conditions of Egyptians and refugees alike. Faced with
these daunting conditions, UNHCR-Egypt will benet from
increased burden sharing with Egyptian institutions and
better strategies to integrate refugees into local society.
1.1 Refugees in Egypt
The modern state of Egypt received multiple waves of
refugee populations throughout the twentieth and the
beginning of the twenty-rst century. We will provide a
brief overview of each refugee population in chronological
order as a way to provide a brief overview of the uctuations
in Egypt’s refugee policies over the years and the impact
of these policies on refugees residing in Egypt today.
Palestinian Refugees
Egypt has hosted Palestinian refugees since as early as
1948; UNHCR estimates that as many as 70,000 Palestinians
live in Egypt currently (2010). Initially, the Government
of Egypt extended numerous rights and privileges to
Palestinians, permitting them to attend public schools and
access state institutions on the same basis as nationals. This
policy changed in the mid-1970s, following a breakdown
in relations between the Egyptian government and the
Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) (Shiblak 1996;
El-Abed 2005). Since this time, Palestinians have been
prohibited from attending public schools or utilizing other
state services. Palestinians must pay foreigner tuition fees for
private schools and universities. Furthermore, Palestinians
are typically not eligible for refugee-specic services. The
United Nations Relief and Works Administration (UNRWA)
does not operate in Egypt. UNHCR-Egypt has identied
70,000 Palestinians in Egypt as Persons of Concern, but
assists only 30 of them (UNHCR 2010a). Thus Palestinians
have no ocial protection space within Egypt. In response,
Palestinians have developed a number of community-
based institutions, including schools and clinics, to
provide for the needs of their refugee community. Most
Palestinians in Egypt live far below the poverty line,
though there are some wealthy members and benefactors
within the refugee community in Cairo (El-Abed 2009: 80)
Sudanese Refugees
The largest refugee population in Cairo is the Sudanese, with
approximately 10,300 registered refugees and an additional
14,500 asylum seekers currently in Egypt (UNHCR 2012)—
the latter number indicating those who are persons of
concern to UNHCR but who are not eligible for resettlement.
There are unknown numbers of Sudanese with closed les.
Egypt and Sudan have deep historical ties and a certain
amount of cross-border migration and trade has always
existed. Migration ows increased dramatically during
the years of the Sudanese Civil War and crisis in Darfur,
which sent thousands of Sudanese to Egypt as refugees.
These refugees underwent individual Refugee Status
Determination (RSD) with UNHCR-Egypt in Cairo, and not
all were ocially recognized. Many of those with closed
les remained in Egypt, however. Those who have closed
cases do not have the protection of UNHCR as refugees
and are not eligible to access a number of refugee-specic
services oered through NGOs. In 2004, the Governments
of Egypt and Sudan signed the Four Freedoms bilateral
agreement, which granted Sudanese the rights of work
and residency. Since 2004, Sudanese asylum-seekers have
been granted temporary protection status by UNHCR-
Egypt, but UNHCR-Egypt no longer undergoes RSD with
Sudanese refugees. This temporary protection” was
supposed to last for 6 months, but the Government of
Egypt has extended it until today, though without clarifying
what status Sudanese refugees may eventually hold long-
term. This temporary protection status qualies them for
certain NGO services; however, temporary protection status
disqualies Sudanese from international resettlement. In
recent years, UNHCR-Egypt has begun to practice RSD with
Darfurians and Northern Sudanese, and these recognized
refugees would potentially be eligible for resettlement
(Kagan 2011). The complexities of the RSD process for the
Sudanese population in Egypt, combined with low rates of
resettlement, has resulted in tension and misunderstandings
between the Sudanese and UNHCR-Egypt over the past
decade, which has periodically ared up into protests and
violence. As recently as April 2011, UNHCR-Egypt has re-
committed itself to increasing the use of third-country
resettlement for refugees in Egypt, including the Sudanese.
East African Refugees
A number of refugees from other countries also live in
CH1: Setting the Scene
Cairo. Approximately 8,000 Somali refugees and asylum
seekers have established themselves in Egypt, along with
1,300 Eritreans and a few hundred registered Ethiopians
(UNHCR 2012). Somalis are granted refugee status on a
prima facie basis. In contrast, Ethiopians and Eritreans
must go through the RSD process, and the acceptance
rate for these communities has been as low as 20 per cent
in some years, which explain the disparities in numbers of
registered refugees between these communities. Scholars
estimate that there may be thousands of unregistered
refugees—Ethiopians, in particular—living in Cairo. These
migrants are usually living without a recognized legal
status in Egypt, which can contribute to a profound sense
of instability, vulnerability and fear. According to scholar
Fabienne Le Houerou, many unregistered Ethiopians are
young men who deserted the Ethiopian and Eritrean armies
and potentially face the death penalty if they return. Prior
to 2004, few Ethiopians received refugee status, in part due
to a lack of understanding among the Ethiopian community
about the RSD process. Since 2004, a legal aid organization
has assisted with RSD applications and interviews, resulting
in much higher acceptance rates (Le Houerou 2006).
Though Cairo was once the primary destination for East
African migrants, in recent years increasing numbers
have attempted to pass through the Sinai Peninsula
into Israel. The authors recognize the grave protection
risks that migrants and refugees along the Israeli
border face. However as this report focuses on the
experiences of urban refugees in Cairo, the experiences
of refugees in the Sinai will not be considered here.
Iraqi Refugees
Egypt also hosts a large number of Iraqis: currently 7,400 have
refugee status in Egypt (UNHCR 2012). Most Iraqis arrived in
Egypt between 2006-2007. The Iraqis are distinguished from
other refugee populations in Cairo by their previous wealth
and education. Upon arrival, 31 per cent of Iraqis reported
they had a “very good” nancial situation, while 51.4 per
cent reported a “sucient” amount of nancial resources
to cover basic needs (WHO and MOH 2009). A number of
Iraqis receive remittances from relatives in Iraq. At the same
time, the wealth and well-being of the Iraqi population has
deteriorated over time—now only 4.7 per cent reported a
“very good” nancial situation, and 56 per cent reported a
decline in their health and nutrition ( WHO and MOH 2009).
Although Iraqis speak Arabic and do not tend to suer from
racial discrimination in Cairo, Iraqis reported to our research
team that they did not have close relations with the local
host community. Iraqis also reported that they lacked a
sense of cohesion and community with other Iraqi refugees
in Egypt. Unlike the Sudanese, they have few community-
based organizations (CBOs) or institutions because President
Mubarak’s administration repeatedly refused to accept
any applications to form Iraqi CBOs. All Iraqis interviewed
expressed a strong preference for resettlement in a third
country; none accepted staying in Egypt indenitely.
1.2 The Study
This report is part of a larger, comparative study on Iraqi urban
refugees in Cairo, Egypt and Amman, Jordan (see Martin and
Taylor 2012; Davis 2012). This study focused on the most
politically complex set of challenges, namely incorporating
refugees into existing urban structures that deliver healthcare,
education, child welfare and other forms of assistance to
the poor while also facilitating access to employment.
While Cairo’s urban refugees, including Iraqis, have received
research attention in the past, most studies focused on a
single refugee group. This study provides a comparative
perspective on Iraqi urban refugees in Cairo that investigates
their situation not only in relationship to protection
principles as enunciated in the Refugee Convention, but also
in comparison with similarly situated local populations and
other refugees living in the same urban neighborhoods. In
Cairo, there are signicant populations of Sudanese, Somali,
Ethiopian, Eritrean and Palestinian refugees with whom
we have compared the Iraqi refugees. These comparisons
have been illuminating not only in understanding the
situation of the Iraqi refugees, but also in identifying
more precisely the public reaction to the refugees and
the context in which decisions are made on their future.
1.3 Methodology
Seeking both depth and breadth of understanding of the
studied issues and aected populations, we designed
our study to have both a “top-down” and “bottom-up”
approach, interviewing both stakeholders and refugees in
order to gain a comprehensive picture of the lives of urban
refugees in Cairo and their ability to access educational
and health services and provide for their families. We
assembled a research team that was well-suited to gain
access and insights from our various research subjects. For
stakeholder interviews, we formed a collaborative team
between Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of
International Migration, Georgetown University’s Center for
Contemporary Studies and the American University in Cairo.
Principal researchers and research assistants from all three of
these institutions took part in identifying and interviewing
government ocials, international and local NGOs, and
CBOs in Cairo. For interviews with refugees, we relied on a
Community-Based Participatory Research methodology,
whereby our team trained refugees to conduct interviews
within their own communities.1 Our refugee assistants were
recommended to us by our colleagues at the American
University in Cairo and by NGO service providers. These
assistants used snowball sampling to identify their research
subjects, targeting neighborhoods where large numbers
of refugees lived.2 We instructed our assistants to be sure
to interview a wide range of households, with varying
1 Community-Based Participatory Research is a methodology that has been highly praised by researchers in a number of elds. This
methodology not only engages with members of the studied community as “equal partners,” but also often allows for more rigorous
research by gaining the investment and cooperation of research subjects in the study. Researchers scrutinizing this methodology have
found that Community-Based Participatory Research often increases both the quantity and the quality of the data collected (see: Viswa-
nathan et al. 2004).
2 These neighborhoods included: 6th of October, Heliopolis, Maadi, Arba’ wa Nuss and Ard al-Liwa.
CH1: Setting the Scene
income levels, refugee registration statuses, educational
backgrounds, livelihood opportunities and ages. We also
hired an Egyptian research assistant to conduct similar
interviews with Egyptian families living in neighborhoods
with signicant refugee populations living nearby.
Data Collection:
Household and Individual Interviews
The project included a total of 63 household interviews
with refugees and local populations. Following our
original research plan, these included 31 interviews with
Iraqi households and 14 interviews with households
among other refugee populations, including Sudanese,
Ethiopians, Somalis and Palestinians. Additionally, we
conducted 20 interviews with Egyptian households. Our
team also conducted focus groups and informal group
discussions with refugees in settings in which they naturally
congregate. Although the total sample size is small, we
are condent that we were able to be suciently strategic
in identifying key neighborhoods and populations so
that our summary ndings relate to patterns and trends
among the urban refugee populations in Cairo. However,
our sample size does not allow for quantitative analysis.
The interviews followed a discussion guide but were
not restricted by a close-ended questionnaire. Open-
ended questions were asked and intensive participant
observation was also carried out. In the course of this
study we have explored a wide array of issues, including:
t Socio-demographic characteristics
t The Iraqi community of origin
t Migration history
t Livelihoods and living conditions
t Self-reported health status and experiences
with the healthcare system
t Experiences with the education system
t Experiences with other services in the area
t Goals for the future
t Relations with other Iraqi refugees, local
populations and other refugees
t Perceptions of security in their neighborhood
and in the city
t Interactions with UNHCR-Egypt
The Egyptian revolution began midway through our data
collection. As such, we were well positioned to gage changing
perceptions of security among both refugee and Egyptian
populations. During our eldwork in December 2010, prior
to the revolution, our teams asked general questions about
safety and perceptions of security of refugees and local
populations. Beginning in January 2011, we added additional
questions to our household interview guides to determine
how refugees and Egyptians perceived their safety and
security prior to the revolution, during the 18 days of protests
in January 2011 and after the fall of Mubarak. Because we
were able to ask these questions in the immediate aftermath
of the revolution, the experiences and memories of our
respondents were very “fresh.” We consider their testimonies
reliable indications of changing perceptions of security.
Individual interviews lasted anywhere from one to two
hours and with few exceptions were conducted in the
refugees’ native languages. Notes from interviews with
Arabic speaking refugees were provided to the research
team in Arabic and translated by two graduate research
assistants from the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies
at Georgetown University. Notes from interviews in
languages other than Arabic were rendered in English.
Data Collection:
Stakeholder Interviews
The second half of our study consisted of a top-down
approach wherein our team met with key service providers
working with refugees. We conducted in-depth interviews
with a total of 16 dierent service providers covering the
elds of health (6), psychosocial programs (7), legal aid
(5), vocational training (6), schools and other educational
programs (4), human and refugee rights (3).3 Of these 16
organizations, our team met with a variety of dierent
types of stakeholders: international organizations (3);
International NGOS (2), Egyptian NGOs (7), Egyptian
health institutions (2), Egyptian private school (1), and a
Community Based Organization (1). These 16 organizations
represent the main NGO-based refugee service providers.
Issues explored with stakeholders included the following
t Eligibility requirements for services
t Barriers faced by refugees to access services
t Dierences between refugee groups in
accessing services
t Dierences between locals and refugees in
accessing services
t Barriers faced by refugees in seeking
t Impact of Iraqis on health services, educational
services, the labor market and cost of living
t Dierences between refugees groups in
registering with UNHCR-Egypt
t The benets and burdens to the local
community in hosting Iraqi refugees
t The benets and burdens to the local
community in hosting other refugees
Data Analysis
The qualitative research approach used in this project oered
many advantages. Ethnographic interviews enabled us to
see the phenomenon under study from an emic perspective
or the “insider’s point of view.The emic understanding is
developed through close exploration of dierent sources
of data, including participant observation and in-depth,
open-ended interviews. The ethnographic process oered
the refugees dignity by encouraging them to take the lead
in the interviews if they so chose. They were able to narrate
their own experiences in their own words, highlighting
issues that “experts” may not consider important.
Interviews with stakeholders also provider the insiders’
perspectives on the challenges and opportunities involved
in meeting the needs of urban refugees residing in Cairo.
In keeping with the methodological principles of
3 Several organizations provide more than one service, so the numbers add up to 31, rather than 16.
CH1: Setting the Scene
ethnography, analysis commenced within a short period
after the rst set of interviews was conducted. Having
local researchers and refugee research assistants on the
ground allowed us to go back to the interviewed refugees
when we needed more information or were unsure of our
interpretation. Collected data as well as peer-reviewed
papers and gray literature identied during the literature
review process were managed and analyzed using NVivo, a
computer software used to manage and analyze text-based
data (Bazeley 2007). NVivo was instrumental in conducting
both “interpretive (making sense of research participants’
accounts) and “reexive (the research team’s contribution
to the data creation and analysis process) analysis.
1.4 Organization of the Report
Our report is organized around four main topics: legal policies
and protection space, livelihoods, education, and health. In
each of these four sections, we compare the relative ease
or obstacles encountered by dierent refugee populations
in accessing essential services. Each section includes policy
and programmatic recommendations. The executive
summary that opens the report provides an overview
of the study and summarizes our recommendations.
CH1: Setting the Scene
CH3: Refugee Livelihoods
Refugees in Egypt have only a few rights under Egyptian
law due to a number of prohibitions and restrictions
put in place by the government. Even when rights do
exist on paper, refugees are often unable to utilize
these rights for reasons that will be explored below.
The pillars of international protection for refugees in Egypt
are the 1951 Convention, the 1967 Protocol Relating to the
Status of Refugees and the 1969 Organization of African
Unity (OAU) Refugee Convention. Egypt is a signatory of
the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol, but with heavy
restrictions and limited eective protection (Olwan 2009). It
is also a signatory to the 1969 OAU Convention, which has
broader criteria for those eligible for refugee status than
UNHCR policies. After 2004, many Sudanese and Somalis in
Egypt were accepted as refugees under the OAU Convention.
Those refugees accepted under OAU criteria are eligible for
refugee services in Cairo, but they are usually not eligible for
resettlement because most countries in Europe and North
America are not signatories of the OAU convention and do
not recognize their criteria. Adopting OAU convention thus
limits the durable solutions available to a segment of urban
refugees in Egypt. The likely permanence of this refugee
population in Cairo underscores the urgent need to develop
a more robust and sustainable framework of legal rights
and access to public services in order to facilitate successful
local integration for those ineligible for resettlement.
Egypt ratied the 1951 Convention on May 22, 1981, with
reservations to Articles 12(1) (personal status), 20 (rationing),
22(1) (access to primary education), 23 (access to public
relief and assistance) and 24 (labor legislation and social
security). According to Egyptian government ocials from
the Ministries of Foreign Aairs (MOFA), Health, Labor and
Manpower as well as the National Council of Childhood
and Motherhood (NCCM), as interviewed by Grabska (2008:
77), “refugees should not have access to the same rights as
those guaranteed to citizens. The reasons provided by the
government ocials included: struggling economy, high
unemployment rates, lack of educational opportunities for
Egyptian children and lack of basic social services for poor
Egyptians. Ocials felt strongly that the Egyptian Government
cannot aord to divert its resources towards foreigners.
Egypt has not adopted any domestic legislation to
implement the 1951 Convention. There is no national
procedure for the determination of refugee status in Egypt.
The determination of individual requests for refugee
status in Egypt is done by UNHCR-Egypt, as has been the
case since 1954, when the Government of Egypt signed a
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with UNHCR. The
Government of Egypt expects that refugees recognized by
UNHCR-Egypt in Egypt will be resettled to third countries or
return to their country of origin: the MOU explicitly states
that the Government of Egypt does not consider local
integration a viable solution for refugees within its borders.
The two reservations that have had the greatest impact on
refugee populations living in Egypt are those placed on Article
22 on free primary education and Article 24 on employment.
Education Laws
In 1981, the Government of Egypt signed the 1951 Refugee
Convention and the 1967 Refugee Protocol, placing
restrictions on refugees’ right to education when it did
so. Over the years, however, there have been ministerial
decrees and decisions that have provided exceptions for
certain refugee groups. In 1992, the Minister of Education
issued Decree No. 24 allowing Sudanese children, inter
alia, to attend Egyptian public primary schools. In 2000,
the Minister of Education agreed to expand this right
to all refugee children. However, bureaucratic hurdles
remain in place and prevent most refugees from exercising
this right. In 2004, the Egyptian Ministry of Education
instructed schools to accept only those refugee students
with UNHCR-Egypt documentation and government-
issued residence permits, among other documents. The
extensive documentation requirements—birth certicate,
a valid passport or valid national identity document (such
as refugee card), the original school certicate from the
country of origin and a letter from UNHCR-Egypt—have
limited this right in practice, and the vast majority of
refugees have to resort instead to private schooling, the fees
for which most refugees cannot pay without considerable
assistance (Azzam 2006, Hilal and Samy 2009, Al-Sharmani
2008). In fact, Catholic Relief Services—the primary NGO
responsible for facilitating refugee education—told our
research team that they were not aware of any registered
refugees attending Egyptian public schools, though some
non-refugee Sudanese nationals may attend in very small
numbers. The situation in Cairo regarding refugee children
education contrasts the situation in Jordan, where the
government explicitly opened schools to Iraqis (Davis 2012).
Labor Laws
Reservation on Article 24 (labor legislation) prevents
refugees from acquiring work visas and applies to Iraqi,
Somali, Ethiopian and Eritrean refugees recognized by
UNHCR-Egypt. Sudanese—whether refugees or migrants—
have been technically granted the right to work under the
Four Freedoms Agreement (2004), but in actuality, few
have been able to successfully complete the cumbersome,
lengthy process required to obtain one. Palestinians
have been restricted from obtaining work visas since
Egyptian laws excluded them from the labor market in
1978. Additionally, obtaining work visas is dicult for all
foreigners, as Egypt has enacted policies over the years to
protect its domestic labor market from foreign competition,
due in large part to the countrys high unemployment rates.
However, there might be a loophole in the laws regulating
refugee employment in Egypt. As Jureidini points out,
open to exploration is Article 17 of the 1951 Convention,
to which Egypt did not enter any reservations. The rst
paragraph of Article 17 states: “The Contracting States shall
accord to refugees lawfully staying in their territory the
most favorable treatment accorded to nationals of a foreign
country in the same circumstances, as regards the right to
engage in wage-earning employment (Jureidini 2009:
81). In practice, these rules have not always been adhered
to, either because Egyptian ministries were slow to adopt
new rules or because the rules were easily circumvented.
Nevertheless, this loophole ought to be explored further.
Foreign nationals’ access to employment is often based on
reciprocity, but the general rule is that 10 per cent of workers
in any company can be foreign-born. Only civil service is
reserved to nationals of Egypt (Di Bartolomeo, Fakhoury and
Perrin 2010). Foreign nationals must obtain work permits
through their employers. It might be prudent for UNHCR-
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Egypt and/or BPRM to assess the local labor market with a
view towards which labor sectors or companies are looking
for workers but have not exhausted their 10 per cent of
foreign-born workers rule. In general, it could be benecial to
open a dialogue with employers on their labor force needs.
Without expanded rights, including the right to education
and the right to work, refugees in Egypt have no real
chance for local “integration,one of UNHCR-Egypt’s three
“durable solutions” (Crisp 2004). While local integration is
often conceptualized as a “durable solution” and meant to
be a permanent solution to protracted refugee situation
(see: Jacobsen 2001; Meyer, 2008), it can also be an
“interim” solution. The social scientic conceptualization of
integration considers it a process of interaction between
refugees and hosts and does not need to preclude eventual
repatriation or cross-border livelihoods and identities (see:
Polzer 2008). Policy-makers often shy away from discussing
the local integration of refugees, worrying that it would
not be politically palatable to host governments. However,
not discussing integration issues can be dangerous as well,
both for refugees and hosts. Lack of integration means a
lack of rights and for refugees, spells discrimination and an
inability to provide for their families. It also means a lack of
understanding of local laws and can, inadvertently, lead to
undesirable behaviors. It also can result in hosts, particularly
the poorer segments, perceiving refugees as “privileged”
since refugees are provided assistance while not working.
Emphasis on local integration—whether permanent or
interim—can lead to refugees being perceived by host
governments as an opportunity rather than a burden.
2.3 Legal Frameworks for Human Rights Protection
The Government of Egypt is signatory to a number of
international conventions, some of which potentially
impact the rights and services aorded to refugees in Egypt.
Egypt became a signatory to the United Nations Convention
on the Rights of the Child in 1990 and notably did not
enter any reservations upon ratication. Article 22 of
this Convention explicitly states that refugee children
are protected under the statutes of this agreement. One
key aspect of this Convention is that Article 28 stipulates
the rights of every child to free and compulsory primary
education and that all children should be able to access
vocational education if so desired. In practice, however, most
refugee children are unable to attend public schools due to
perceived legal barriers (whether real or misunderstood),
cost, and cultural and linguistic barriers. All refugees are
prohibited from vocational training in Egypt. The protection
of these rights on paper thus does not guarantee that refugee
children receive their full rights in practice (OHCHR 1989).
Egypt is a signatory to the United Nations’ International
Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant
Workers and Members of their Families, which went
into eect in 2003. Though refugees do not have the
legal right to work in Egypt, this agreement would likely
constitute the framework by which future labor rights
for refugees would be granted. This agreement provides
limited rights and freedoms to migrant laborers. However,
it explicitly states that domestic workers do not qualify as
“laborers” under this agreement. Furthermore, human
rights organizations have noted frequent violations of
this agreement by the Government of Egypt, including
allegations of torture and the racist treatment of migrant
workers by law enforcement in Egypt (EIPR and FIDH 2007).
The government also agreed to the United Nations’
Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or
Degrading Treatment of Punishment in 1986. However,
there are widespread allegations that the police routinely
engaged in torture. Refugees reported their anxieties that
they would suer physical abuse from Egyptian police if
they were ever arrested. Despite Egypt’s ratication of this
convention, there is no assurance that refugees in Egypt are
safe from abuse, wrongful detention or harsh treatment if
taken into custody for any reason. These concerns have been
realized in recent years: UNHCR-Egypt and human rights
organizations have criticized the Government of Egypt for
detaining, mistreating and forcibly returning illegal migrants
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Table 1: Rights According to Dierent Refugees Settled in Cairo
Sudanese Iraqis
East Africans:
with Closed
Files Palestinians
Right to
Yes, on paper; in
practice, no
(Four Freedoms
Agreement 2004)
(GoE reservation
to refugee con-
(GoE reservation
to refugee con-
(lack legal resi-
(Egyptian Law
Right to
Yes, on paper; in
practice, no
(Four Freedoms
Agreement 2004)
Yes, on paper; in
practice, no
(Decree 2000)
Yes, on paper; in
practice, no
(Decree 2000)
(lack legal resi-
(Egyptian Law
Right to
Health Care
Yes, public
healthcare on
the same basis
as uninsured
(Decree 2005)
Yes, public
healthcare on
the same basis
as uninsured
(Decree 2005)
Yes, public
healthcare on
the same basis
as uninsured
(Decree 2005)
May use public
health facilities
but must pay
full fees because
they are not
legal residents.
(no restrictions)
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5 The Government of Egypt’s response to Palestinian refugees followed a dierent trajectory, owing to Palestinians’ unique legal status
and claims within the international refugee system. The Government of Egypt’s varying policies towards Palestinians will be discussed in
greater detail below.
6 UNHCR-Egypt did occasionally perform RSD with a small number of Iraqi asylum-seekers in exceptional cases, such as when an Iraqi
was suspected of being a former Ba’athist.
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and asylum-seekers attempting to cross through the Sinai Peninsula into Israel (UNHCR 2008; Human Rights Watch 2009).
2.4 Trends in Durable Solutions
UNHCR-Egypt has responded in varying ways to the
legal constraints placed upon them by the Government
of Egypt when it comes to providing durable solutions
for refugee populations in Cairo. Both the Government
of Egypt and UNHCR-Egypt have promoted voluntary
repatriation as the preferable durable solution for the
waves of Sudanese, East African and Iraqi refugees
who have arrived over the past few decades.5
Beginning with the waves of Sudanese refugees who ed
to Egypt in the 1980s during the war in Southern Sudan,
UNHCR-Egypt performed RSD for each refugee applicant
in accordance with the MOU between the Government of
Egypt and UNHCR-Egypt. From 1978-1995, the Sudanese
in Egypt additionally beneted from the terms of the Wadi
El Nil agreement between the Governments of Egypt
and Sudan. This agreement granted Sudanese in Egypt
(refugees and ordinary migrants) rights of education,
employment, health services and property ownership.
This agreement ended in 1995 following an assassination
attempt on President Mubarak in Ethiopia, which the
Government of Egypt blamed on Sudanese Islamists.
Between 1995-2004, Sudanese refugees in Cairo were
aorded only the limited protections provided in Egypt
under their MOU with UNHCR-Egypt. However, those
recognized as refugees by UNHCR-Egypt were eligible
for repatriation in third countries during these years. Of
the 20,700 Sudanese who were recognized by UNHCR-
Egypt between 1997-2004, 14,300 were resettled in third
countries. Signicant protection gaps remained however:
the 20,700 recognized Sudanese refugees constituted
only a fraction of the total number of Sudanese who
approached UNHCR-Egypt for asylum. Upwards of 60 per
cent of Sudanese cases during these years were rejected
because the Sudanese could not necessary prove that, as
individuals, they had a “well-founded fear of persecution”;
they were simply eeing the general violence of the war.
To rectify this situation, in 2004 UNHCR-Egypt began to
recognize Sudanese refugees under the criteria of the
Organization for African Unity (OAU), which recognizes
refugees eeing the violence of war even if individuals
did not experience targeted persecution. Problematically,
however, switching to the OAU criteria for RSD disqualied
many Sudanese refugees from international resettlement,
since most host countries in Europe and North America do
not recognize the OAU’s criteria. Thus from 2004 onward,
Sudanese refugees had an extremely dicult time in trying
to get resettled internationally, despite the fact that this was
the preferred durable solution for most Sudanese refugees.
At the same time, prospects for locally integrating the
Sudanese improved somewhat in 2004. In this same year,
the governments of Egypt and Sudan entered into the “Four
Freedoms” agreement, which provided Sudanese in Egypt
with the legal right of work, residency and other freedoms.
Beginning in 2007, Sudanese refugees led protests against
UNHCR-Egypt, advocating for increased resettlement
opportunities. Though negotiations were sometimes often
tense, UNHCR-Egypt began to increase the numbers of
cases recommended for resettlement in a third country.
Following the Egypt’s revolution and a new wave of protests,
High Commissioner for Refugees Gutierrez announced
a “new start for refugee resettlement for UNHCR-
Egypt, announcing a new annual resettlement target of
2,000 cases. This number was several times higher than
resettlement rates had been in the mid-2000s (Kagan 2011).
UNHCR-Egypt reported to our team that ve additional sta
members were assigned to review UNHCR-Egypt’s database
of resettlement les to identify particularly vulnerable
cases that may be eligible for third country placement.
Other refugee populations in Egypt have had less volatile
experiences in regards to durable solutions. Perhaps
learning from past mistakes with the Sudanese refugee
population, UNHCR-Egypt granted all Iraqi asylum-seekers
refugee status on a prima facie basis without undergoing
RSD.6 This qualies Iraqis for international resettlement;
thousands have been resettled since the rst wave began
arriving in Egypt in 2003. Likewise, refugees from Somalia,
Eritrea and Ethiopia were registered either on a prima facie
basis or through individual RSD. Recognized refugees from
these countries have been eligible for repatriation in third
countries, and many have been resettled over the years.
Palestinians, in contrast, are not registered as refugees by
UNHCR-Egypt, and they are not eligible for resettlement.
Voluntary repatriation is an option to all refugees at all
times. Since 2008, UNHCR-Egypt has actively involved
itself in assisting Iraqis with voluntary repatriation.
According to statistics from UNHCR-Egypt, as many as
1,439 Iraqis left Egypt, either with UNHCR-Egypt assistance
or spontaneously. In 2010, that number dropped to 548. In
2011, the year of the Egyptian Revolution, only 445 Iraqis
left Egypt despite the increased instability and worsening
quality of life. (UNHCR 2011b, 2011c). The declining number
of returns may indicate that, despite worsening conditions in
Egypt, some Iraqis and other refugees may never voluntarily
return. Furthermore, UNHCR-Egypt ocials indicated to our
research team that these returns are not always sustainable:
a number of “returnees” from Egypt to Iraq ended up
leaving Iraq once again to seek asylum in Jordan or Syria.
Likewise, only a small number of Sudanese have returned,
and it is unlikely that many will return to South Sudan
until the relationship between the governments of the
North and South have stabilized. In 2011, 333 Sudanese
and Southern Sudanese were assisted with returns by
UNHCR-Egypt, and similar numbers of Sudanese returned
the year prior (393 Sudanese). To give perspective, a total
of nearly 25,000 Sudanese asylum-seekers still remain in
Egypt (UNHCR 2011c). Few Ethiopians or Eritreans have
returned. According to the research by Fabienne Le Houerou
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Chapter 3: Refugee Livelihoods
Improving the livelihoods of Cairo’s refugees is the single
most important step towards increasing refugees’ protection,
promoting durable solutions, and contributing to their
long-term well-being. In the past, UNHCR-Egypt focused
primarily on assisting and preparing refugees for eventual
return or resettlement, since the Government of Egypt was
averse to permanent integration of refugees. As a result,
there were few policies and programs to address refugees’
needs for long-term livelihoods solutions in Cairo. However,
in the rst years of the new millennium, UNHCR began
globally to frame livelihood as an essential protection issue
in the context of protracted refugee situations, especially in
urban settings. Consequently, livelihoods have acquired a
prominent place in UNHCR’s Convention Plus initiative and
in the Agenda for Protection (UNHCR 2006; UNHCR 2003).
Issues of refugee livelihoods were further highlighted in
UNHCR’s recent publication Promoting Livelihoods and
Self-Reliance: Operational Guide on Refugee Protection in
Urban Areas (UNHCR 2011). In these publications, UNHCR
emphasized that the right to work is a human right (Article
23.1, Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Articles
17-19 of 1951 Geneva Conventions) for all people, and for
urban refugees, in particular, it is closely associated with
issues of protection and durable solutions (UNHCR 2011).
The Urban Policies of both 1997 and 2009 also emphasized
the importance of livelihoods, though the 2009 policy
includes a more somber assessment of the obstacles many
urban refugees face in seeking work than its earlier iteration.
Despite the increased emphasis on refugee livelihoods,
UNHCR-Egypt and its implementing partners in Cairo
operate within a legal framework that, on the one hand,
does not allow refugees to work legally and, on the
other hand, sometimes turns a blind eye to refugees
working in the informal economy. These restrictive labor
laws pose enormous challenges for the international
refugee regime operating in Cairo, but the inconsistent
attitude towards working refugees provide some,
albeit very limited, opportunities for creative strategies
facilitating livelihoods and protecting working refugees.
We discuss these strategies in the recommendations.
No clear denition of the concept of livelihoods has emerged,
illustrating the complexity of the phenomenon. Chambers
and Conway (1991) indicate that “livelihood” refers to the
capabilities, assets and strategies used by people to make a
living. A sustainable livelihood allows individuals and families
to cope with and recover from stress and shocks, to maintain
or enhance its capabilities and assets in order to provide
sustainable livelihood opportunities for the next generation.
It also contributes net benets to other livelihoods at
the local and global levels. In other words, livelihoods
refer to the means used to maintain and sustain life.
Similarly to other urban refugees, Cairo’s refugees are often
confronted with a wide range of legal, nancial, cultural,
and—for non-Arabic speakers—linguistic barriers in their
eorts to establish sustainable livelihoods. In many cases
they have little alternative but to join the informal economy.
In the remainder of this chapter we will discuss refugees’
access to formal and informal employment with a particular
emphasis on: the vulnerabilities and opportunities faced by
domestic workers, nancial assets (savings and remittances)
as well as cash assistance, and housing costs and living
conditions. We will discuss other expenses, including
education and healthcare costs, in subsequent chapters.
3.1 Access to Employment
Despite the pronouncements about the importance of
livelihood initiatives, in Cairo most refugees continue to face
immense challenges in attaining self-reliance and economic
self-suciency. As indicated in the previous chapter, Egypt’s
reservations to the 1951 Convention on article 24 (labor
legislation) mean that refugees cannot work legally in Egypt.
This restriction aects Iraqi and East African refugees who
are registered with UNHCR-Egypt. Refugees with closed
les are barred from working since they lack legal residency
required to apply for a work permit. Palestinians have been
barred from working in Egypt since 1978 (El-Abed 2005). The
Sudanese are in an exceptional situation: the Four Freedoms
Agreement (2004) technically provides the Sudanese with the
right to work. In practice, however, it is almost impossible for
the Sudanese to obtain the necessary work permit required
for legal employment. Securing a work permit is an expensive,
lengthy and complicated process, which requires employer
sponsorship and no competition from a similarly qualied
Egyptian citizen (see also Buscher and Heller 2010). Despite
these restrictions, some refugees—mainly Africans—are
able to nd work, albeit illegally in the informal economy in
unregulated sectors and occupations with few protections.
One loophole exists for all foreigners: under Egyptian law
domestic service does not constitute labor. As a result,
many refugees are able to nd waged employment as
domestic workers, but without any protections under
Egyptian labor laws. Housekeepers, baby-sitters, cooks,
gardeners, and other servants enter into private contracts—
often times verbal agreements—with private citizens who
need their assistance. These informal arrangements put
many refugee domestic workers at risk for exploitation.
Iraqis: Unable to Work Legally, Reluctant to Take
Menial Jobs
Iraqis interviewed in the course of this project were adamant
that they would not take jobs below their level of education.
All wanted jobs commensurate with their education
and work experience in Iraq. Some were willing to take
a dierent job that they were trained for as long as it was
“a desk job. Without exception, all Iraqis we interviewed
expressed a profound disdain for manual labor and jobs
“below [their] level.Stakeholders conrmed our data, noting
that Iraqis tended to only be interested in entrepreneurial
opportunities and shunned manual labor. At the same
time, mental health care professionals reported to our team
that Iraqi refugees who have taken up menial jobs below
their professional qualications often display symptoms of
depression and should receive mental health counseling
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to mitigate this situation. This stands in sharp contrast to
many mental health approaches that suggest that keeping
refugees busy decreases social isolation and serves as
a protective factor minimizing the risk for depression.
Iraqis with relatives or friends in the United States were
appalled that many were not able to re-establish their
professional careers and some had to take up menial jobs. In
some interviews with stakeholders, we observed that service
providers have supported Iraqi refugees rather classist
attitudes towards menial labor and jobs not commensurate
with their education. Refugee service providers, particularly
middle-class Egyptians, bemoaned the fact that refugees
resettled in the United States were encouraged to enter the
labor force as quickly as possible regardless of the type of
employment that was available to them. They were very
supportive of Iraqi refugees’ decisions to look for opportunities
in Europe rather than in the United States or Canada.
Some Iraqis with resources at their disposal attempted to
start small entrepreneurial ventures: open a bakery or a
barbershop, serve as middlemen on commission in real
estate sales, or operate a small grocery store. However, many
were told that in order to start a business in Cairo they needed
an Egyptian partner. Several Iraqis we spoke with have either
been deceived by Egyptian partners or heard of others who
were swindled out of their money. One Iraqi man told us that
when he and his parents rst came to Egypt in 2007 they
opened a small market in the neighborhood. However, an
Egyptian neighbor, who seemed to be a good man, told them
that they had to share the prots because they were illegal.
At rst they did not believe him, but after several weeks of
nagging they gave in. Reportedly, he stole 10,000EP from
them. In 2009 they took him to court, but at the time of our
interview in December 2011 the case had not been settled yet.
3.2 Vulnerability of Domestic Workers
Domestic work—including house cleaning, cooking, and
childcare—is often one of the few elds in which refugees are
able to nd work. In our analysis of refugees participation in
domestic labor, we partnered with Dr. Ray Jureidini (formerly
of the American University in Cairo, now with the American
University of Beirut), who has published extensively on issues
of domestic labor in Egypt and throughout the Arab world.
We have also analyzed other publications on this topic and
interviewed many domestic workers, particularly women.
Service providers and refugee advocates we spoke with have
also indicated that this group requires particular attention.
African Refugees: Eager to Work, At Risk for
Many African refugees—Sudanese, Somalis, Ethiopians and
Eritreans—work in the informal economy. Women typically
work as domestic servants, providing household cleaning
and childcare. Men who are able to nd work often nd
employment in the service sector as chaueurs, deliverymen
or gardeners. Somali and Sudanese women, in particular,
have had consistent success in nding employment as
domestic workers in private homes. Accurate statistics
do not exist regarding the number of domestic workers
in Cairo. But it is believed that for thousands of refugees
in Cairo, domestic work is the only type of employment
available, and it has proven to be a crucial source of income
for their survival. Virtually every African refugee woman
we spoke with worked as a domestic worker or baby-
sitter in an Egyptian household, as there is high demand
among middle- and upper-middle class Egyptian women
for domestic workers. However, pay is typically inadequate
and insecure. Domestic workers are not legally considered
“workers” and thus are not protected by Egyptian labor
laws, nor are their contracts valid legal documents.
In a survey of 633 foreign-born domestic workers in Cairo
conducted by Jureidini (2009), 10 per cent of interviewees
complained of sexual harassment, including rape,
inappropriate touching and demand for sexual favors.
Those who tried to refuse were red or threatened with
ring. One interviewee said: “The husband comes to my
room every night for sex. I can’t say no because he gives
me money and helps me with many things” (Jureidini
2009: 87). Based on his research, Jureidini found that
male employers were often the perpetrators of sexual
harassment. However, because of the shame associated
with the abuse and the lack of legal protections in place
for domestic workers generally, abuse is rarely reported.
Abused refugees have little recourse in terms of getting
protection from the Egyptian legal system. While
interviewing a female family physician working with
African refugee women we heard a story about a Sudanese
domestic worker who was raped by her employer in a dark
courtyard. Distressed by the situation she ran into the street
and a passer-by, a male doctor, summoned the police to
help the victimized woman. When the police arrived they
said that in order to make a credible claim the victim would
have to have an adavit signed by a medical doctor. The
passer-by oered to attest to what he saw—after all he was
a doctor—but the police told him that the adavit had to be
issued by a doctor who works for the police to be credible.
Obviously, there was no such doctor in the street. The police
told the woman to go home. In her case, “home” was the
house of the rapist since she was a live-in housekeeper.
In addition to sexual harassment and sexual exploitation,
domestic workers faced other forms of abuse. When she
rst arrived in Cairo, Salima,8 a young Sudanese woman,
worked as a housekeeper for an Egyptian family. The lady
of the house took her passport and would not return it
when Salima needed the passport to register with UNHCR-
Egypt. Only after Salima waived her salary, the Egyptian
employer returned the passport. Salima eventually quit,
having become ill from working long hours with only
one meal a day. Our research assistants told us other
accounts of employers strip-searching their domestic
employees whenever they were suspected of theft.
Refugee men also work in the informal economy, though
there is less demand for their labor and subsequently many
nd it dicult to get hired. Based on group interviews
conducted by our research assistants at Refuge Egypt,
many Sudanese men reported working as chaueurs,
running small errands for employers or working as
deliverymen. Though some of these men reported good
8 Pseudonyms have been used to protect the anonymity of interviewees.
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working relations with their employers, other complained
of racism, unpaid wages and unjustied dismissals.
For obvious reasons, employment in the informal economy
is not very secure. This insecurity has been exacerbated
after the revolution. African refugees reported being
“laid o from their domestic work, gardening and other
unskilled positions. In community meetings with UNHCR-
Egypt, African refugees explained the reasons given by
employers for stopping employment: “It was Mubarak
who allowed you in here and now he is gone, so it’s time
for you to go too”; “We don’t need you here now”; “We
have our own issues to deal with.As the economy is not
likely to recover soon, refugees are likely to continue facing
increased economic vulnerability in the months to come.
3.3 Financial Assets: Savings and Remittances
Iraqis: Running Out of Savings, Relying on
Iraqis and refugee service providers interviewed in the course
of this project indicated that many Iraqi refugees continue to
live on their savings. There is a general perception that Iraqi
refugees are fairly well o. However, the Iraqi refugees we
spoke with worried that these resources were diminishing
quickly, and we heard reports that some Iraqi families
had reached such a precarious position that they had to
choose between educating their children and paying for
medication. While it is probably true that savings or funds
from property sales are drying up, visits to Iraqi households
suggest that they are trying to hold onto urban, middle-
class standards of living and are better o than African
refugees living in Cairo. Even though most Iraqi apartments
we visited were sparsely furnished, many were located in
nice residential neighborhoods, primarily in 6th of October.
Furthermore, each household we visited had a television,
most interviewed Iraqi refugees had Internet and cell
phones as well as basic but sucient furniture for household
members. In contrast, most Sudanese and Somali refugees
lived in overcrowded dwellings in poor neighborhoods in
central Cairo with insucient furniture and few amenities.
Many lived with roommates—extended family members or
non-relatives—whereas Iraqis did not. Some African refugee
women opted to work as live-in domestics simply because
they could not aord to rent a room, much less an apartment.
To supplement their dwindling savings, a considerable
number of Iraqi households continue to receive remittances,
either from properties in Iraq or relatives living in Iraq
or elsewhere in the world. In one of the rst Iraqi families
we interviewed, the mother—a middle-age widow with
an engineering degree from an American university—
told us that she would not register with UNHCR-Egypt
because then she would not be able to travel to Baghdad
to collect rent money from tenants living in the house
her late husband built.9 We also heard of a case of an
Iraqi man who was arrested because he received a large
money transfer from Iraq of $7,000 and the police claimed
he was using the money to aid terrorists. The police
conscated the funds and detained the man. UNHCR-
Egypt got involved and presented him with the option of
deportation to Iraq or going to another country. He chose
to go to Syria because he had business connections there.
A survey of Iraqi households conducted by the World Health
Organization (WHO) and the Ministry of Health (MOH)
indicated that an estimated 60 per cent of Iraqi households
do not have sucient nancial support because of lack of
resources to meet their basic or other special needs (WHO and
MOH 2009). However, that means that 40 per cent are doing
relatively well. If they could work legally in Cairo, the majority
of Iraqi households would most likely be self-sucient.
Other Refugees
Some Sudanese, Somali and Ethiopian refugees we
interviewed also received money from friends and
relatives. The Somalis who received remittances from
their families did not work, and some were able to
pay for their education with this money. However, the
sums were small and rarely exceeded a couple hundred
dollars every few months. No African refugees reported
having any savings. As one Ethiopian woman told us:
I work six days a week and more than 16 hours a day and
the pay is very little. I don’t have any savings and my life
is from hand to mouth and I am worried about my future.
Every African refugee interviewed expressed similar
concerns about their vulnerabilities from living “hand to
mouth. Those refugees with closed les are even more
vulnerable since they lack the ability to receive services
and cash assistance from Caritas and similar organizations.
3.4 Cash Assistance
Discussing the situation of Iraqi refugees, UNHCR-Egypt
pledged assistance, but not direct cash assistance:
The challenge of assisting vulnerable refugees in the region
should not be resolved through direct cash assistance.
Assistance to Iraqis in the region should be delivered to
host community networks, such as national social agencies
and civil society. This methodology will allow UNHCR
to simultaneously reach more beneciaries, provide
UNHCR more leverage with host country authorities to
advocate for more eective protection standards, as
well as support the local infrastructures in coping with
the impact of the presence of large Iraqi populations in
their territories. Signicantly, UNHCR’s support…to this
social network will also have a positive spillover eect
upon host communities and the most vulnerable within.
(UNHCR Strategy for the Iraq Situation, Revised 2007: 4).
Despite this initial policy position, UNHCR has provided cash
assistance to Iraqi refugees in Jordan and Syria (Davis and
Taylor 2012: 41). In Egypt, cash assistance is distributed by
Caritas; it is distributed to families on the basis of need and
9 UNHCR-Egypt and the Government of Egypt require refugees returning to their country of origin to close their cases with UN-
HCR-Egypt. Refugees may re-open their case once they return. However, refugees hoping to travel frequently between Egypt and Iraq—
as in the case of this woman—have preferred not to register with UNHCR-Egypt in order to maintain their mobility.
CH3: Refugee Livelihoods
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CH3: Refugee Livelihoods
its more spacious residences, proximity to schools and
perception of safety. The downside of this choice, however,
is that 6th of October, Rehab City, Heliopolis and other
middle-class neighborhoods favored by Iraqis are located
far from Cairo’s city center and, consequently, far from many
of the centralized NGO services and the UNHCR-Egypt oce.
Some Iraqi refugees lived in sparsely furnished, modest
apartments, while others resided in more spacious
apartments in the nicer areas of Cairos suburbs. All Iraqi
families we interviewed were able to aord a sucient
number of beds for each family member, a TV, a computer
with Internet and an air conditioner. Iraqi families
appeared to prioritize these creature comforts, perhaps
as status-markers of their middle-class backgrounds in
Iraq or in order to improve the quality of their children’s
education with the provision of a computer. Television and
Internet undoubtedly mitigated some of the boredom
and isolation often associated with refugee life in Cairo.
At the same time, the presence of these items did not
necessarily signify nancial auence. In one striking
example, a researcher was invited into a large, airy four-
bedroom apartment of an Iraqi who was living in a nice area
of 6th of October City. Despite its size, the apartment had
almost no furniture. When the refugee hostess oered the
researcher a small snack, it was revealed that the woman
had very little food in her home. This particular instance
was a more extreme example of the general trend among
Iraqis to prioritize neighborhood safety, apartment size and
amenities over furniture and protein. This trend appears to
be changing, however, as Iraqis have depleted their savings
in this protracted refugee situation. In several interviews,
Iraqis indicated that they could no longer aord to pay
for rent, medication and education fees, and were thus
looking to adjust their family budgets by moving, seeking
less medical treatment or pulling children out of school. In
2008, 77.2 per cent of Iraqis needed to borrow money to
pay for food or rent (WHO and MOH 2009). Likewise, 87.1
per cent of African refugee households borrowed money
to pay for the same basic needs (WHO and MOH 2009).
The sample size of Iraqi refugee households is too
small to generalize about housing costs in the greater
metropolitan Cairo. However, a survey of rent costs among
28 Iraqi households indicates that the average household
interviewed spent an average of 1,153EP on rent, though
rents ranged widely from 600EP to 2000EP, with variations
due to location, size and whether or not it was furnished.
Only one Iraqi family interviewed owned their at. Of the
non-Iraqis interviewed, refugees indicated that they paid a
similar range for rent (600EP to 2000EP), but that they were
much more likely to divide their rent between roommates
so that each resident was responsible for only approximately
300EP (approximately $50). All refugees paid a rough
average of 100EP (approximately $16) for utilities in addition
to rent. Many refugees interviewed paid for at least a portion
of their rent with the help of cash assistance from Caritas.
Other Refugees
In general, few refugees have established networks to
facilitate nding housing or to share housing. Those
refugees who did have friends or relatives already in Egypt
often used these contacts to help locate neighborhoods
or apartments in which to live. Iraqis usually did not move
in with non-relatives (only two interviewed reported
sharing their apartment with a non-relative), while most
African refugees interviewed were sharing housing with
friends or relatives. While sharing housing helps refugees
reduce the cost of rent, it can also lead to overcrowding.
The African refugees interviewed often chose to live in
close proximity to co-nationals and near churches or other
common gathering places for their refugee communities.
Few could aord move to the more auent neighborhoods
on the outskirts of Cairo, especially if they worked in more
central Cairo neighborhoods, since commuting costs could
cut deeply into meager earnings. For Ethiopian, Somali and
Sudanese refugee women working as domestic laborers,
proximity to their employers’ households is a key consideration.
All refugees complained that it was dicult for their
children to socialize outside of the house. Many refugee
mothers expressed fears that it was unsafe for children to
play outdoors or that their children would be subject to
harassment or discrimination, especially on account of race.
Worryingly, many refugee children suer from Vitamin D
deciency due to being kept inside the house for prolonged
periods. This problem is worse for children whose mothers
work outside the home. Due to a lack of aordable and
adequate childcare and a lack of a familial network to
provide childcare, many mothers must leave their children
locked at home while they work (Briant and Kennedy 2004).
Similarly to refugees, poor and working class Egyptians
interviewed in the course of this project also struggled with
nding appropriate housing, paying rent and utility bills
and often resorted to a variety of strategies, including living
in multigenerational households with parents, aunts and
uncles, and older married siblings. Virtually all unmarried
men and women live with parents or other relatives. Married
Egyptians also often have to take in their elderly or widowed
parents and support them. However, in contrast to refugees,
some Egyptians interviewed for this study were able to
obtain subsidized housing from the Egyptian government,
some lived in rent controlled ats and others lived rent-free
in family-owned houses or apartment buildings. Several
of our Egyptian respondents lived in the working class
neighborhood of Bulaq Abu Al-Ala in government-built
apartment buildings. The neighborhood also included
a slum section where Egyptians lived in abject poverty.
Yet long-time refugee residents of Egypt and the low- and
mid-income Egyptians interviewed were much more likely
to own their at or to benet from “old rents,” a form of rent-
xing for certain long-time apartment residents. Among
the refugees, Palestinians were the most likely to own their
homes or live in xed-rent apartments. For families who
have lived in the same apartment for decades, these “old
rents” can amount to as little as 7EP (approximately $1) per
month. Newcomers cannot benet from the old rent system.
In the “new rent” system, landlords are legally entitled to
raise rent by 10 per cent at the beginning of each calendar
year. Many refugees reported that their landlords increased
the rent on their apartments every year, which resulted in
families moving every few years to nd cheaper housing.
While refugees and poor Egyptians generally share many
of the same concerns and burdens in daily life, in the area
of rent and housing, Egyptians have signicant advantages.
CH3: Refugee Livelihoods
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Chapter 4: Education
In Egypt free and equal access to education has been
guaranteed to all Egyptian citizens since President Nasser’s
socialist reforms in the 1950s. However, due to high
population growth rates and lack of nancial resources,
the public education system has been struggling to
accommodate rapidly increasing numbers of students.
According to the Egyptian government’s statistics agency
CAPMAS, 43.5 per cent of the population (approximately
35 million) are currently below the age of 20 (CAPMAS
2012). While enrollment rates have risen steadily during
the last decades, the quality of state-provided services
has deteriorated. As a result, the provision of education
has increasingly been taken over by non-state actors. The
privatization of education is taking place on two levels
simultaneously in Egypt: on the ocial or formal level, a
growing number of private schools and universities are being
established, while at the same time a “shadow education
system” of private supplementary tutoring has evolved on
the informal level and out of the reach of state control. Today,
a large part of instruction and learning in Egypt takes place
outside of the ocial classroom, either at home or in private
tutoring centers. These private lessons, which the majority
of Egyptian high school students and even a large number
of elementary and preparatory school students take in the
afternoons and evenings, consume not only much of the
students’ and teachers’ spare time but also a substantial part
of the average Egyptian family’s budget (Hartmann 2008).
The Egyptian educational system is highly centralized and is
divided into basic education, which comprises primary and
preparatory stage, secondary education and post-secondary
education. Education is compulsory until 15 years of age. The
free compulsory education law applies only to the preparatory
phase. The great majority of students in Egypt from the
primary to tertiary levels are enrolled in public institutions.
According to service providers, there are approximately
9,000 school age refugee children in Cairo. There are two
main barriers to education: structural and social. First,
there are numerous bureaucratic obstacles. Refugees can
only enroll in public schools if they are legally recognized
and can provide extensive documentation, including birth
certicates and letters from UNHCR-Egypt. Despite the fact
that the Minister of Education granted all refugees the right
to attend public primary schools in 2000, this right is not
widely known or clearly understood by many local teachers,
school administrators and even stakeholders. As a result,
the decree has rarely been implemented in schools for any
refugee population. Language barriers, cultural dierences,
experiences of discrimination or harassment, and dierences
in curricula from refugees’ schools in their countries of origin
also present formidable obstacles to mainstreaming refugee
children into Egyptian public schools. Furthermore, the
government has still maintained restrictions on the rights of
refugees to attend public secondary schools or universities.
Cost is the second signicant barrier to quality education
both for Egyptians and refugees. Public and private
schools have fees for books, uniforms and extra-curricular
lessons. Private school tuition fees are often far beyond
what refugees can aord. A refugee community advocate
said that some families are forced to enroll only one child
in school while keeping the rest of their children at home,
because they cannot aord the cost of private education.
At the time of our research, the Catholic Relief Service
(CRS) provided educational grants to approximately 6,000
children. A study carried out by CARIM (Consortium for
Applied Research on International Migration) indicated that
in the school year 2007/2008 some 6,900 refugee children,
including 2,621 Iraqi children, received UNHCR-Egypt
education grants (Roman 2009). Catholic Relief Services
has continued to provide approximately 7,000 grants
annually since the time of CARIM’s study. These numbers
seem small in relation to the estimated number of urban
refugees living in Cairo. However, educational stipends
are distributed only to refugees who are registered with
UNHCR-Egypt. As indicated before, many refugees do not
want to register because refugee registration information
is shared with the Egyptian government, who refugees do
not trust. Many African refugees who arrived prior to 2004
were not recognized by UNHCR-Egypt but have remained in
Cairo. Others do not register because they want to migrate
to another country; many Iraqis do not register because they
want to preserve the ability to travel back and forth between
Egypt and Iraq. Palestinian refugees are not eligible to
register with UNHCR-Egypt. Refugees not registered with or
recognized by UNHCR-Egypt face greater barriers to access
to education than those registered with UNHCR-Egypt.
4.1 Access to Primary Education
According to the Egyptian Ministry of Education, in the
academic year 2007/2008 a total of 4,209 Iraqi children
were enrolled in private primary and secondary schools.
Yet, because of the structural limitations detailed
above and Iraqis’ preference for higher quality private
education, 3,903 Iraqi children attended private schools
and only 306 attended public schools (Roman 2009).
Private schools in Egypt have high tuition rates, ranging from
$300 to $700 per year. UNHCR-Egypt oers education grants
to registered refugees, but these grants do not cover all of
tuition costs: refugee education grants range from $130 to
$275 per child per year. The education vouchers can also be
used for uniforms, school fees and books. It is noteworthy
that the situation in Egypt is very dierent from Jordan, where
refugees are mainstreamed into the Jordanian school system.
CRS provides additional voucher money for children
with disabilities allowing them to attend specialized
classes. However, as reported by an Egyptian parent,
special education programs do not exist in Egyptian
public schools. Some private schools are equipped to
provide specialized services to children with learning
disabilities or mental illness, but these schools are very
expensive and “the state does not subsidize or support
the disabled,” said a mother of a child with disabilities.
CH4: Education
CH4: Education
Iraqis have a strong preference for private schools at all levels
of education; a preference that is also shaped by the fact that
most Iraqis cannot or believe they cannot enroll their children
in public schools. Most of the Iraqi families we interviewed in
the course of this project did enroll their children in private
schools, despite its signicant cost. They spoke about
Egyptian public schools with disdain—as did many Egyptian
families—and in many instances were disillusioned with
Egyptian private schools as well. Iraqi parents put a premium
on good education. Most are well educated themselves and
want their children to receive an equalivalent education.
Service providers remarked that Iraqis feel their children
are entitled to good education. This feeling of entitlement
seems to be related to the fact that education was free in Iraq.
One Iraqi father said he had three sons in private schools
to the cost of 1,700 EGP, or $280, for each one. Although
he received 2,000 EGP ($328) in educational vouchers per
child, he found it inadequate to cover all the additional
costs such as uniforms and school fees. In a private middle
school we visited, tuition was 2,200 EGP ($360) per year.
The principal estimated the cost of books at about 65-120
EGP ($10-$20), depending on the grade level. Uniforms cost
85 EGP ($14) per outt; most students need two uniforms.
Refugee students who received educational stipends from
UNHCR-Egypt had to pay the tuition upfront and then
go with the receipt to UNHCR-Egypt or CRS to receive
their stipend. Parents indicated that it sometimes posed
a burden on them, as they had to wait to be reimbursed,
often for several days or weeks. This particular school did
not oer scholarships or nancial aid to any students,
Egyptian or Iraqi. However, the principal mentioned that
occasionally a rich benefactor supports some students. A
few months prior to our research, an Iraqi businessman
gave each of the 220 Iraqi students 500 EGP ($80).
Parents also talked about the need to augment the
education that children received in schools with private
tutoring. As already mentioned, private tutoring is
ubiquitous in Egypt and is largely seen as a requirement
for students to satisfactorily pass annual examinations.
The cost of private tutoring is not insignicant—anywhere
from 10-100 EGP (or $2-20) per hour depending on how
many subjects the tutoring sessions cover. Teachers expect
that children will be tutored in several topics at least once
or twice a week. The costs add up. On the other hand,
it seemed that teachers insist on the need for private
tutoring because they want to make additional money.
Since almost no refugee students are able to aord the
exorbitant costs of attending university, families must make
dicult decisions, weighing the relative benets of setting
aside a signicant portion of the household income to pay
extra costs for education. Based on our interviews, many
Iraqis are still expecting to be resettled internationally, and
thus they invest in their children’s education with the hope
that they will continue their studies abroad. The same is not
necessarily true about African students (see discussion below).
Reports about tensions between Egyptian and Iraqi students
were rare. A principal of a private primary and middle school
in 6th of October reported only one incident of a st ght
that erupted between a Sunni Egyptian and a Shi’i Iraqi boy
over a dierence in interpreting a call to prayer. On the other
hand, she also shared a disturbing story with us regarding
Iraqi students. At the time of our interview in the winter of
2010, Iraqi students constituted about 10 per cent (or 200
students) of the school’s population. Four years prior to our
research, in 2006, there were about 700 Iraqi children in this
particular school, but the principal received an order from
the security forces not to accept any more Iraqi children
because there were too many Shi’i students in the school.
The Egyptian pupils come solely from Sunni families. When
asked what happened to the 500 students she said that
some graduated, some returned to Iraq, some were resettled
in the United States and Canada, and some left the school
because they could not aord the tuition any longer. We
wondered if the last cohort left the school because of the
opposition of the Security Services to the Iraqis’ enrollment.
Iraqi students face several challenges in Egyptian schools,
particularly if they arrive in the middle of a school year.
School curricula are not compatible, and the dierence in the
Arabic spoken in Egypt and that spoken in Iraq contribute to
some diculties. Egyptian children start learning English in
Kindergarten or the rst grade, while Iraqi students begin
to learn English in fth grade. Overcrowding of Egyptian
schools severely limits refugee children’s access to education.
In December 2006, dozens of Iraqis protested in front of the
Ministry of Education when their children were expelled from
school because their visas were no longer valid (Roman 2009).
Similar complaints have been heard among Iraqi refugees
in Jordan, who also struggle to adjust to the dierences
between the Iraqi and Jordanian curricula (Davis 2012).
Sudanese refugee children can, in theory, exercise their
right to public education under the Four Freedoms
agreement as well as under the 1992 and 2000 Ministry
of Education decrees. However, in practice, the extreme
population pressure on Egyptian schools and the extensive
documentation—birth certicate, last school certicate,
identity documents with legal residence permit and a letter
from the Embassy of Sudan—required to enroll a refugee
child in school, severely limit refugee children’s access to
public education. Refugee children and adolescents with
rejected asylum claims constitute the most vulnerable
group without any hope to access free public education.
According to community members, racial prejudice poses
an additional barrier to education for African refugee
children. Given tensions between African refugee and
Egyptian children in schools, UNHCR-Egypt funded a special
program helping students from dierent backgrounds get
to know each other. Classmates participated in artistic and
musical activities and talked about their lives and hopes
for the future. No formal evaluation has been conducted of
the program; therefore, while it is dicult to say with any
certainty how eective this strategy is, it appears promising.
Most Sudanese refugee children attend so-called “Refugee
Schools,” created and run by Sudanese refugee communities
in Cairo. These schools are often aliated with churches, much
cheaper than private schools, and located closer to where
refugees live. Africa and Middle East Refugee Assistance
(AMERA) reported that the situation in these schools has
been improved recently by the introduction of the Sudanese
curriculum allowing students to receive accredited diplomas.
In the last two years, Sudanese students have been allowed
CH4: Education
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CH4: Education