Cairo is considered to have among the highest populations of refugees in an urban setting in the world. This urban setting presents a unique set of challenges particularly when delivering services and programs to a population with heightened vulnerability who are not easy to locate within the greater population of Cairo. In this context it is of great utility to strengthen outreach programs whose aim is to strengthen the connection between service receiver (refugees) and the service provider (the organization.) Another challenge to delivering services and programs to refugees is the greater diversity or heterogeneity of the population itself. However, if NGOs actively take into account and incorporate into their strategy these differences within the population of refugees, it can serve as an effective tool toward the improved execution of programs and services, as well as a better address of refugee needs and grievances. This thesis explores the outreach strategies and philosophies of NGO workers performing outreach activities representing 17 organizations in Cairo who work with refugees. It furthermore highlights a theory on outreach in the context of humanitarian aid work which includes social capital and the cultural competence attainment models at its base, considers how different aid approaches affect outreach, as well as highlighting relevant policy, law, and urban refugee contexts in Cairo. The findings of this thesis imply that NGOs in Cairo in action do take into account some differences in the heterogeneous population of refugees in Cairo when executing services. However, a rhetoric of anti-discrimination does not fit the reality of separating “refugees” from “migrants,” and “local population,” because of their mandate. Therefore, it would be better to acknowledge the reality of difference as a tool on which the practitioner could place a conscious priority.


School of Global Affairs and Public Policy


Center for Migration and Refugee Studies

Degree Name

MA in Migration & Refugee Studies

Graduation Date


Submission Date


First Advisor

Ahsan Ullah

Committee Member 1

Ann Lesch

Committee Member 2

Agnes Czajka


140 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis


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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License