Egypt is a country situated along the central Mediterranean refugee route. Roughly half of the refugees and asylum seekers are Syrian, with others mostly from several Horn of Africa countries, Sudan, and South Sudan. They face the challenges of a protracted refugee situation in an impoverished urban setting, with multiple and severe barriers to access basic services. They also suffer from harassment and discrimination. EU humanitarian aid assists the most vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers, based on their needs, and irrespective of their nationality.
What are the needs?
Refugees and asylum seekers are mostly located in Egypt’s megacities and rely heavily on humanitarian assistance. They live in overcrowded and impoverished neighbourhoods, where the local community also struggles with substandard living conditions and high unemployment rates. 32.5% of Egyptians live below the national poverty line. According to UNHCR, this percentage is even higher among refugees (84%). Access to basic services such as healthcare and education is extremely challenging for refugees and asylum seekers.
The continued influx of refugees and migrants coincides with Egypt’s worst economic recession in decades. Dramatic price increases for food and utilities are worsening the living conditions for the most vulnerable population. Besides, refugees from African countries face linguistic barriers and discrimination, which limits their access to formal education and further contributes to their marginalisation.
In the wake of the coronavirus crisis, the Egyptian Government has imposed a partial lockdown. This has directly affected refugees and asylum seekers, who are now facing greater uncertainty. The pandemic has also worsened the stigmatisation and discrimination suffered by refugees, especially of sub-Saharan origin. Many have lost their livelihoods and are unable to provide for their families or pay rent.