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Aid workers from children’s charity Plan International are developing an emergency response to support thousands of Syrian refugees in Egypt.
Nearly 110,000 Syrians have been registered in Egypt, 47,000 of them children. But the Egyptian government estimates there are as many as 300,000 refugees in the country.
There are no Syrian camps in Egypt. Most refugees are living in urban areas, alongside the Egyptian population.
Although initially welcomed, there has been a shift in attitudes towards Syrians in Egypt, particularly after the recent political turmoil.
Virginia Saiz, Plan’s Acting Country Director in Egypt, says: “Egypt is not currently offering a protective environment for Syrian refugees with increased arrests, deportations, harassment and a general decline in hospitality.”
Many Syrians are relying on savings, which have significantly depleted, and are living in rented or shared accommodation.
There has also been increasing pressure on basic services due to the increased number of residents in some communities.
“Housing remains a pressing issue for refugees, while loss of livelihood for both the Syrians and the host community is increasing their vulnerability.
“Syrian families face many challenges, including enrolling their children in school, with some prioritising their sons’ education over that of their daughters’," says Miss Saiz.
Plan International is preparing an emergency response plan, focusing on the city of Alexandria, where there is a large concentration of Syrians.
It is also working with the UNHCR and other international NGOs to assess the crisis, focusing on how to help protect and provide services for children, as well as promoting inclusion and understanding among Syrian and Egyptian communities.
Miss Saiz adds: “Because they do not live in camps it is challenging to identify where Syrians are and to provide support, without creating social tensions with poor Egyptians in the host community.
“That’s why community-based interventions promoting solidarity and inclusion need to address both Syrians and Egyptians.”
For more information on Plan’s work or to make a donation call 0800 526 848 or visit www.plan-uk.org