CAIRO – The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, concluded a three-day visit to Egypt with an urgent call for support for people fleeing Sudan – and the countries hosting them – and for the borders to remain open to those escaping the conflict.
More than 170,000 people have entered Egypt since the conflict started on 15 April – many through Qoustul, a border crossing that Grandi visited close to the end of his trip. The country hosts around half of the more than 345,000 people who have recently fled Sudan.
At the border, Grandi met newly arrived refugees and Egyptian border authorities. ”I heard harrowing experiences: loss of life and property on a huge scale,” Grandi said. “People spoke of risky and expensive journeys to arrive here to safety. Many families have been torn apart. They are traumatized and urgently need our protection and support.“
Grandi also met with the Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, and discussed how best to support refugees and mobilize resources for host countries, not least Egypt.
“I commend Egypt for its long-standing commitment to providing a safe haven to those fleeing violence,” Grandi said. “The government, the Egyptian Red Cresent and the people have been very generous in supporting arrivals. We urgently need to mobilize more resources to help them to maintain this generosity.”
Prior to this conflict, Egypt was already host to a large refugee population of 300,000 people from 55 nationalities.
Upon registration with UNHCR, refugees and asylum-seekers have access to a wide range of services including health and education. UNHCR’s emergency cash assistance programme started during the last week.
UNHCR recently released the Sudan Regional Refugee Response Plan, which seeks to mobilize $470.4 million to support refugees, returnees and host communities in Egypt, the Central African Republic, Chad, Ethiopia and South Sudan. Around 25 per cent of this appeal will be allocated to Egypt to support the work of 25 partners for six months. So far, the appeal is barely funded.
The High Commissioner appealed for borders to be kept open for people who need to cross into Egypt and other countries hosting those fleeing Sudan. Grandi redoubled his call for urgent diplomacy to secure meaningful peace between the two warring factions in Sudan, safe passage for civilians in the country as well as humanitarian aid entering.
While in Egypt, Grandi also met with the Secretary General of the League of Arab States, as well as the Minister of Interior.
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