Saturday,25 November, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1339, (6 - 12 April 2017)
Saturday,25 November, 2017
Issue 1339, (6 - 12 April 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Refugee and resilience plan

As part of a new plan to help Syrian refugees, Egypt presented a model of support in spite of the burden they pose on its economy

Syrian refugees
Syrian refugees

In the absence of a political settlement, the plight of Syrian refugees is not likely to ease. On the contrary, it may further complicate and present more burdens on host countries, including Egypt. Given that concern, Cairo hosted the official launching of the 2017-2018 Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) in response to the Syrian crisis.

The plan basically aims to help refugees as well as Egypt to continue to provide help to them.

Foreign Minister Assistant for Arab Affairs Tarek Al-Kouni said the Syrian refugee crisis, entering its seventh year, had made the need for the 3RP plan more pressing.

“The challenges that the crisis poses cannot be endured by one state on a unilateral basis. The situation in the region has become more difficult as a result of the Syrian crisis. Thus, there is a dire need for a wider plan to deal with the problem,” explained Al-Kouni in the launch held at the Foreign Ministry.

The plan was drawn up on the basis of several assumptions: Egypt will continue to host Syrian refugees, support refugee protection, and facilitate implementation of activities through national and international NGOs. It also states that the crisis in Syria and in other countries in the Middle East remains unresolved.

UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Representative Richard Dictus, who described the situation in Syrian as the worst humanitarian crisis, said it forced more than half the Syrian population to leave their country.

“There are more than 120,000 Syrian refugees registered with the UNHCR. Egypt has demonstrated generosity in dealing with the issue. It offered them the usual protection in addition to giving them access to education and health services, like Egyptians. They also benefited from subsidised commodities like energy. However, that places additional burdens on Egyptian resources and economy,” Dictus said.

Thus, he added, “our approach in the 3RP is to protect refugees as well as people who help them. In that case it’s Egypt.”

Assistant Resident Representative at the UNDP Naglaa Arafa said the 3RP aims to build on the present state of refugees to better respond to their needs and improve the capacity of schools and healthcare in addition to increasing employment.

The objectives of the 3RP are to provide help in five main sectors: protection, food security, health and nutrition, education and basic needs and livelihood.

As for the resilience component in the plan, it aims to strengthen the capacities and resources of individuals, households, society and the state at large to cope with refugees.

The importance of the plan, according to Al-Kouni, is that it is likely to help Egypt cope with the growing problem. He pointed to a continuous increase in the number of refuges. “The number of refugees increased from 115,000 in November 2016 to more than 120,000 in February 2017,” he said.

He partially ascribed the increase to the policy of uniting families which Egypt recently adopted.

Now, he added, the number of students in all stages of education reached 39,500 this academic year.

Health has seen some 62,000 medical consultations and more than 9,800 children received their under-five vaccines.

The UNHCR, a partner in the 3RP, is providing support for Syrian refugees ever since they started coming to Egypt in March 2011.

UNHCR Representative in Egypt Karim Atassi expressed his thanks to Egypt for opening its doors to Syrian refugees and for donors who help the UNHCR provide support needed for them.  

In order to demonstrate the magnitude of the refugee problem in the region, Atassi shed light on the problem of refugees in the region in general and that of Syrians in particular.

“There are some five million refugees in the region who are mostly Syrian in addition to another five million Palestinians refugees. Nevertheless the region’s states still open their doors for more refugees,” he said.

The government of Egypt represented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the main partner of the plan with UN organisations.

Following the plan’s launch, two workshops were held to draw up its implementation programme.

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