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Research Report

Surviving in Cairo as a closed-file refugee:: socio-economic and protection challenges

Nourhan Abdel Aziz
Copyright Date: Aug. 1, 2017
Pages: 36
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 8-11)

    The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is the region with the largest migration and refugee movements in the world (IOM 2016). Cairo, a cosmopolitan city attracting diverse populations, has hosted a significant number of migrants and refugees mainly from Africa and the Arab region. The first refugee movements, dating back to the first half of the twentieth century, consisted mostly of Armenians fleeing the 1951 massacre under the Ottomans, Palestinians after the 1948 war, and Sudanese after the second Sudanese civil war 1983. In the second half of the century, more refugees arrived in Egypt as a result of...

  2. (pp. 12-14)

    The project was carried out over a period of six months and was divided into three stages. The first stage was dedicated to desk research, which aimed to provide a conceptual framework for the study; the second was to identify target groups for the research and the third, to identify local and international organisations working with the target groups.

    As seen in Section 1, important concepts to the study were identified, studied and explained. Government and UNHCR policies were also investigated.

    The number of closed-file cases was gathered from UNHCR data. Preliminary research was conducted regarding UNHCR’s RSD Process and...

  3. (pp. 15-16)

    The international refugee regime is governed by international refugee law. The basis of this is the 1951 Refugee Convention which defines who is a refugee and also provides the rights and entitlements that should be guaranteed to all refugees. The definition, as stated in the concepts/terminologies section, is highly criticised for being outdated as it was developed during the Cold War where the image of a refugee was quite different to the current context. During the Cold War, the ultimate target of the refugee convention was to provide protection to individuals fleeing the Soviet Union and its neighbouring communist states:...

  4. (pp. 17-19)

    Despite the constant regime change in Egypt, refugee policy has been quite stagnant. The policy and institutional framework governing refugees and migrants in Egypt is very centralised. Whilst it hosts a significant number of refugees, Egypt has not developed a national asylum procedure nor does it have a particular institution dedicated to refugees present on its territories. As a result, UNHCR is entrusted with the functions of registration, documentation and refugee status determination, which are supposedly government functions under international law. As such, Egypt is considered a state where UNHCR functions as a ‘UN surrogate state’.

    ‘UN surrogate state’ is...

  5. (pp. 20-28)

    In the following section, the results of the FGDs are analysed and complemented with the interviews conducted with community leaders and service providers. It starts with a brief examination of the demographic characteristics of the sample and the communities studied as part of this study. After that, an analysis of their housing, employment, education, and health conditions are presented. In each section, a description of their conditions is given as well as the service providers who support the target population and the coping mechanisms developed and utilised by the community to try and overcome challenges and barriers in each of...

  6. (pp. 29-30)

    According to the participants’ results, most ‘closed files’ carry some sort of identification; however, they are invalid. Most resort to their expired passport or yellow card. In a few cases, the participants do not carry any identification documents. Some participants had their documents confiscated by landlords while others were confiscated by their employers. However, without valid IDs, many of their rights are denied. In order to issue marriage and divorce certificates, both parties must have valid documents. This is also the case for issuing birth certificates for children; both parents must hold valid identification documents. Since the target group does...

  7. (pp. 31-32)

    Closed-file and rejected asylum seekers are mainly concentrated in peripheral areas that are historically poor and deprived, thereby exacerbating their already difficult living conditions. Due to the current economic situation in Egypt and the recent floating of the Egyptian pound, prices of basic commodities and services have soared. The increase in demand for rented accommodation has raised rental prices even higher than previously. The price inflation is affecting all classes in Egypt and closed-file and rejected asylum seekers drastically.

    To cover their basic needs, closed-file and rejected asylum seekers accept lower incomes than Egyptians or officially recognised refugees and asylum...