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WFP Expands Safety Net Projects In Upper Egypt To Assist Egyptian Returnees From Libya

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CAIRO – The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has launched a project in Upper Egypt to provide food assistance and reintegrate into the jobs market labourers who fled the violence in Libya.

WFP is providing take-home food rations to participants in food-for-training initiatives that aim to equip returnees with the skills needed to re-enter the labour force. This project will target 70,000 returnees and their families, totalling around 350,000 people, for a period of two months between May and August.

Participants come from the rural areas in five governorates in Upper Egypt, the poorest region in the country. This includes communities that have been hard hit by the loss of remittances previously being sent home by migrant workers in Libya.

“A joint WFP and UNICEF assessment in the southern governorates of Assiut and Sohag in March found that, with income sources now lost, these workers are almost entirely reliant upon savings that are running out fast,” said WFP Representative and Country Director in Egypt Gianpietro Bordignon. “These families typically spend up to 75 percent of their meagre incomes on food, immediate food-based safety nets are crucial while they find other ways to earn a steady income once again.”

The first distributions of locally-purchased rice, vegetable oil, and fortified date bars started in Sohag. The initial phase of the scheme will target 33,000 participants and their families; a total of 165,000 people during the month of May alone. This will include the governorates of Beni Suef, Menia, Assiut and Sohag. The second phase of the project will expand to include the governorate of Fayoum.

WFP is implementing the project in cooperation with the Ministry of Manpower and Migration that will provide vocational training, while WFP provides food assistance to participants in the scheme in cooperation with a range of NGO partners.

The government partners will conduct training programmes using their own existing vocational training facilities, staffing and other technical capacities. WFP is additionally engaging private sector partners in the initiative, both to facilitate training courses and to provide employment opportunities for trainees after they complete the programme.

Specific training courses are likely to include: car mechanics, plumbing, electrics, carpentry, tailoring, painting and others.

It is estimated that over 200,000 Egyptians have returned to their homes in rural Egypt since violence erupted in Libya in late February. The majority of these are low-skilled workers from Upper Egypt where few livelihood opportunities exist.