Refugees throw spotlight on Egypt

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Thousands of African refugees have entered Israel illegally over the past few years, highlighting the struggle for these displaced persons ‘ conditions in Egypt.

According to Israeli reports, since the beginning of 2008, at least 2,400 Africans have successfully made it to Israel.

Officials say a majority of those refugees find themselves living in poor conditions with not much more than a house over their heads.

That may be better than staying in Egypt, refugees in the North African capital said.

“We don’t have work here (in Egypt) so Israel is seen as our best chance at living a real life as we want,” a Somali refugee who preferred not to be named, said . “People would rather have the opportunity to try and work instead of sitting around here doing nothing.”

The United Nations refugee agency said that they are working on improving the opportunities for refugees and asylum seekers, but for a majority of those already residing in Egypt, it may be too little, too late.

“I would like to see more effort given to all groups of people, not just the single mothers, or families,” Abdullah Osman, a Somali refugee and head of an NGO helping Somali refugees, told panapress.

He said that the UNHCR did not do much for single men and women who did not have families.

“So they don’t have anything to do, don’t speak the language and can’t get a job . In addition, they don’t have enough money to survive. They are the ones looking for a way out,” Osman added.

The Egyptian government has said it plans to introduce new projects in coordination with the UN body in an attempt to stem the flow of immigrants leaving the country. This, they argue, will help satisfy some of the dissatisfaction among the refugee population.

“It needs to happen soon, because even here in our little village, people are getting frustrated,” said Tawer Ali, a Sudanese community leader in a small village just outside Cairo for refugees.

He says that with so many refugees already making it to Israel and “making it” the sentiment among his group is that Israel is the answer.

“If things don’t change here soon, many more refugees will try for Israel,” he added. Panapress.

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