The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is expressing its concern that support for refugees in Egypt is facing severe pressure due to increased arrivals and inadequate resources. The organization said ongoing conflicts in Yemen and in Sub-Saharan Africa have forced more people to flee to Egypt, where the number of registered refugees and asylum seekers has increased by 24 percent in the past two years.
The organization said current refugee programmes in Egypt, which are meant to assist 250,000 refugees - more than half of whom are Syrian with others from Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan and Yemen - are just 4 percent funded.
Refugees without support
UNHCR said the surge in the refugee population, coupled with funding shortfalls, are leaving many refugees without critical support and protection. Two months into 2019, UNHCR said it is operating with only a fraction of its annual budget of 104.2 million US dollars to support and protect refugees and asylum seekers in Egypt. Despite Egypt's hospitality and support to refugees, including through the provision of free education and access to health care on an equal footing with Egyptians, many refugees struggle to feed their families, to send their children to school and to keep themselves sheltered, UNHCR said.
It said many are rapidly sinking into debt and poverty, forcing them to resort to most desperate measures to survive, including child labor, early marriages, or prostitution.
Grandi says 8 in 10 refugees in 'desperate conditions'
"I am deeply troubled by the fact that eight out of 10 refugees in Egypt are living in desperate humanitarian conditions," said the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi. "They cannot meet even their most basic needs. Putting bread on the table is a daily challenge," he said. "These refugees require timely and adequate humanitarian assistance. Yet, right now we are unable to provide them with the bare essentials or maintain our core refugee protection programmes in this country."
Without timely, predictable and flexible funding, UNHCR's essential protection activities for refugees and asylum seekers in Egypt are at risk, in particular the ability to sustain its protection programs for refugee children, who make up 40 percent of refugees in Egypt, UNHCR said.