Center for Migration and Refugee Studies

Author's Department

Center for Migration and Refugee Studies

Document Type

Research Article

Publication Title

Working Paper Series

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Throughout its history, Cairo has hosted many foreigners and refugees. In the first half of the twentieth century the refugee population in Cairo consisted of Armenians, Palestinians, and Sudanese. Many of the Armenians have moved since then to other countries. More Palestinians and Sudanese have moved to Cairo in the second half of the century. In the last two decades, the refugee population has widened to include sizeable numbers of refugees from Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia as well as more Sudanese.1 In addition to being one of the drafting members, Egypt is a party to 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. Egypt is also a party to the 1967 Protocol and the OAU Convention of 1969. This entails an obligation on the part of the Egyptian government to offer asylum and resettlement to refugees who have fled to Egypt from their homelands. However, by placing reservations on four of the articles in the 1951 Convention, Egypt has withdrawn from the refugees in its territory significant rights, namely the rights to employment, permanent residence, and access to state education. Moreover, the government of Egypt has obligated the UNHCR office in the country to handle the process of accepting or rejecting applicants for refugee status. Moreover, those refugees who are recognized often face continuing hardship and economic problems since they are not allowed to work and they receive very little or no financial assistance or educational grants from the UNHCR office. In short, life for many of the refugee population offers very few or no legal rights and extreme economic hardship. This is particularly true of African refugee populations whose cultures and languages are noticeable different from that of the host society

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