Operation: Opération: Egypt



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Key Figures

2020 planning figures
52,400 asylum-seekers will be registered on an individual basis  
38,300 refugee and asylum-seeker households will receive multi-purpose cash grants
23,700 refugee and asylum-seeker households with primary and secondary school aged children will be provided with education grants (47,000 students)
20,000 substantive status determination decisions will be taken 
4,900 refugees and asylum-seekers will be referred to secondary and tertiary medical care
2018 year-end results
175,000 people of concern assisted in seven languages through UNHCR’s information hotlines
152,000 vulnerable refugees and asylum-seekers received winterization assistance
84,410 people supported monthly through multi-purpose cash grants to meet basic needs
44,720 children received UNHCR education grants
1,990 refugees were resettled to 10 countries
92% of refugee children were enrolled in primary schools

People of Concern Personnes relevant de la compétence du HCR

Increase in
2018 314,937
2017 289,231
2016 263,426


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2018 {"categories":[2015,2016,2017,2018,2019,2020],"budget":[85.170372352,82.27679034,79.08958703,74.46865337,104.15671602,108.814433886],"expenditure":[46.44128458,45.61564518,42.6004643,42.82142057,null,null]} {"categories":[2015,2016,2017,2018,2019,2020],"p1":[85.120372352,82.27679034,79.08958703,74.46865337,104.15671602,108.814433886],"p2":[0.05,null,null,null,null,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,null,null,null,null]} {"categories":[2015,2016,2017,2018,2019,2020],"p1":[46.40966352,45.61564518,42.6004643,42.82142057,null,null],"p2":[0.03162106,null,null,null,null,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,null,null,null,null]}
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  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019
  • 2020

Operational context

Egypt remained a transit and destination country for refugees and mixed movements. This was reflected by the diversity of the registered population from 58 different countries, including Iraq, Syria and various sub-Saharan African countries.
In 2017, a generally conducive asylum environment was upheld. Egypt grants access to public health care to all refugees and asylum-seekers, and allows Syrians and Sudanese access to its public education system.
However, difficult socio-economic conditions, with high inflation levels and increased costs of living impacted the lives of Egyptians, refugees and asylum-seekers, especially the most vulnerable.
Refugees and asylum-seekers continued to face delays in obtaining and extending residence permits due to the high number of applicants and lengthy administrative procedures. Positive signals were noted when the Government decided in September 2017 to extend the period of residence permits from six months to one year and to decentralize the processing of the permits for refugees and asylum-seekers in the northern provinces. The implementation of these decisions is linked to the digitalization of the Ministry of Interior and is yet to be realized.
In 2017, Egypt experienced the highest number of arrivals since 2013, close to 40,000 new arrivals, with approximately 18,000 from Syria. The continuous increase in new registrations of refugees, coupled with funding constraints and inflation, hampered UNHCR’s ability to assist all those in need, in particular the non-Syrian populations of concern.
In 2017, some 1,560 individuals were detained for immigration and administrative offences in Egypt, 90 per cent of whom were registered refugees and asylum-seekers. Furthermore, an estimated 1,520 people were apprehended in the context of irregular mixed movements along the border with Sudan, of whom 6 per cent were registered refugees and asylum-seekers. Arrests for attempted irregular departures by sea from the north coast of Egypt decreased drastically from close to 4,990 individuals in 2016 to some 140 individuals in 2017.  This may be attributed to various factors including tightened control over ship movement and smugglers by the government, cautious approaches taken by smugglers due to the enactment of law 82 in 2016 on “illegal migration and human smuggling” and strict security measures, and changes of migration routes.
While UNHCR had access to detention centres on the north coast of Egypt, with the exception of the Libyan border, access to detention centres in other parts of Egypt remained restricted. UNHCR advocated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Interior in favour of arrested people of concern, and provided legal assistance when needed. For detained registered refugees and asylum-seekers, UNHCR’s advocacy efforts were largely successful and resulted in their release. In 2017, the Office was, however, informed of the deportation of 10 people of concern. 

Population trends

In the course of 2017, UNHCR registered more than 50,200 individuals, including some 23,660 Syrians and 26,570 refugees and asylum-seekers of other nationalities.
The number of new arrivals of unaccompanied and separated children (UASC), mainly from Eritrea, increased significantly. At the end of the year, the total number of registered UASC stood at 3,700, of whom 2,780 were registered in 2017.

Key achievements

  • In March 2017, UNHCR merged the registration and refugee status determination (RSD) procedures for asylum-seekers. By combining the registration and RSD interview in one, the Office removed the waiting period between the two interviews, which was a main concern in the past. The new procedures were extended to all main population groups that undergo RSD, with the exception of Eritreans.
  • Enhanced best interest assessment and determination processes for children ensured timely identification, assessment of protection risks and needs, adequate referral to services, monitoring and follow-up.  A total of 2,507 best interest assessments were conducted for UASC and other children at risk.
  • UNHCR’s hotline providing information for people of concern reached an average of 15,340 calls per month.

Unmet needs

  • Funding shortfalls prevented UNHCR from providing multipurpose cash grants to the projected number of vulnerable families. The multi-purpose cash assistance thus reached only 10 per cent of African and 6.5 per cent of Iraqi families.
  • A significant increase in new arrivals of unaccompanied separated children, limited resources of staff specialized in child protection and limited resources within the community created challenges for UNHCR and partners.


Working environment

Egypt is a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, and the 1969 Organization of African Unity Convention. The number of Syrians and asylum-seekers of other nationalities approaching UNHCR for registration increased in 2016, to reach almost 200,000 refugees and asylum seekers of which over half are Syrians.  There continues however to be inequality of assistance available to refugees of different nationalities. A difficult socio-economic environment, increasing living costs, concerns for physical safety of refugees, discrimination and language barriers all have a negative impact on the integration of refugees. Limited livelihood opportunities and a lack of prospects for integration, coupled with a loss of hope to be able to return to their country of origin have contributed to the steady rise in the numbers of refugees departing irregularly by sea. The short validity of residence permits and centralization of residency procedures continue to constitute major challenges faced by refugees and asylum-seekers. 

The Government grants freedom of movement and residence permits to asylum-seekers and refugees. It has accommodated Syrian and Sudanese children in public schools, and provides access to primary health care services to them on par with nationals. UNHCR is working to enhance the quality of education and health care in the public system.

Key priorities

In 2017 the operation will focus on: 
•    Preservation of the protection space, enhanced access to asylum, prevention of refoulement and effective protection;
•    Mainstreaming primary health care for all refugees across nationalities and primary education for all Arabic-speaking refugees will remain a priority; 
•    The strategic use of registration, RSD and resettlement, to improve identification, profiling and assessment of special needs towards the best use of assistance and solutions;
•    Prevention and responses to detention and risks related to irregular migration, sexual and gender-based violence and child protection will be strengthened;
•    Strengthening refugees’ resilience including through livelihood programming, and solutions-oriented and sustainable community-based protection programmes by enhancing community participation, outreach and communication with refugees;
•    Working closely with the Government on investing in effective and innovative partnerships, capacity building and coordination with national and international partners;
•    Strengthening documentation of protection interventions, data collection and trend analysis.
A shortfall in funding will affect several areas of assistance. UNHCR would only be able to provide health and education assistance to the most vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers. Moreover cash-based interventions, which are critical to refugees in light of their difficulty in accessing livelihood opportunities, would also be decreased and potential recipients would likely have to be further prioritized. Waiting periods for registration and RSD would also increase.

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