Refuge Egypt: Situation Update September 2007

Magandas Posted by Gillian Maganda on Fri, 16 Nov 2007 | Bookmark: digg this Post this to del.icio.us Post this to Facebook

During the past 3 months, Refuge Egypt has continued to focus upon its 7 core objectives in providing a place where refugees feel welcome; continuing to be the main healthcare provider for refugees in Egypt; Offering emergency assistance and spiritual encouragement; providing opportunities for individuals to become self-sufficient; advocating for the most vulnerable within the refugee community and offering limited education opportunities for children, challenged youth and adult education classes.

Despite a drop in numbers accessing our services during the first 6 months of 2007, this past quarter we have registered a significant increase in refugees, and in particular those coming from Eritrea and Ethiopia. With continued political unrest and insecurity in these regions, more and more refugees are filtering through to register with the UNHCR in Cairo. A significant number of Eritrean refugees are currently being held in a government prison north of Cairo, because they lacked proper documentation when entering the country. Efforts are being made on their behalf to secure their release; so they can register officially with the UNHCR as refugees. Stories of lives and families torn apart by the conflict in the Darfur region of western Sudan continue to make front page headlines in the international media. We are still seeing a steady trickle of people from that region and many are traumatized and dishevelled as they try and come to terms with major trauma and loss, along with necessary cultural adjustments in resettling into an alien environment, within Egypt. The Egyptian government have also estimated that over 1 million Iraqi refugees have fled the insecurity of their homeland to temporarily settle in Egypt within the last year. There is the perception that many of these people are wealthy; but for some, their savings are slowly being depleted and the needs among them are becoming apparent. With the coming of Iraqis to Egypt, house rents and food prices in the shops have risen sharply in recent months, causing the most vulnerable within the refugee community to almost collapse under the strain of trying to provide for their families and dependants. The exodus of Sudanese trying to gain asylum in Israel has stopped, as the Israeli government gave refuge to over 2500 individuals, but have refused entry to others in recent months.

During the summer months, Sudanese refugees were deciding to return home, with many of the major NGO’s offering huge salaries to those with professional qualifications. S. Sudan has become a place where investors are flocking to build businesses; helping with the reconstruction of infrastructure and seeking to get a slice of the many untapped natural resources in S. Sudan. This past week (early October) the S. Sudanese government announced that they were pulling out of their power-sharing deal with the Northern government, as promises agreed upon have not been upheld. This has thrown the whole peace process for Sudan into turmoil, and refugees in Cairo are again cautious of returning home. But it would appear that people in Juba (capital of S. Sudan) are moving about their daily business as usual. As part of their current election campaign, the Australian government has also announced that they are no longer providing resettlement opportunities for Sudanese. This has dashed the hopes of many, and made the refugee community feel more isolated and abandoned. As an organization we have realised the need of continuing to offer the same level and quality of services for the next few years to come.

In our previous report we mentioned our plans to carry out an audit of our services to determine the impact our organization is making and how we need to evolve or change, in light of recent developments within the Refugee community. This we have just started in early October, beginning with a feasibility survey and hopefully by the end of the year our audit will be complete, and management in consultation with the governing Site Committee, will be able to determine the way forward for us as an organization, and our continued commitment to serve the many refugees still coming to us for help.