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Why Support Refugee Education in Cairo, Egypt? A Call to the International Community El-Wafaa Refugee Culture Centre Abdel Rahman Siddiq – Executive Director Matt Hanson – Outreach and Media

“UNHCR staff in Egypt do not view resettlement as a good option because, like the Government of Egypt (GoE), they fear resettlement could attract African refugees to Egypt. This leaves repatriation as the only durable solution for most refugees.” (WikiLeaks to The Telegraph)

Reasons Why: 1. There are 35,000+ African refugees officially registered with the UNHCR in Egypt. The majority of asylum-seekers are unregistered. For many African migrants, Egypt poses harsher conditions than their countries of origin. 2. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) argues against further African migration to Egypt. The Government of Egypt provides nothing. Services provided by the UNHCR, NGOs, and academia are sorely insufficient. 3. El-Wafaa Refugee Culture Centre provides services (e.g. language training) so people can safely transition from Egypt and into a more hospitable environment. The mission statement of the El-Wafaa Centre is to alleviate suffering of vulnerable refugee communities in urban areas. 4. The 2013-2014 El-Wafaa Budget covers the rent and office resources for the centre in Maadi (a neighborhood in Cairo). Also, the budget will be used to pay staff for their dedication to programming and outreach services. 2

“It is disappointing that the environment for the displaced people is far from safe. There have been numerous reports of Sudanese refugees and asylum-seekers being held captive and kidnapped.[v] Those who are kidnapped face brutal atrocities, threats, torture, and even death.” (International Justice Project, 2013)

“African refugees and economic migrants generally live in Cairo's toughest neighbourhoods, sharing dirty toilets and stinking alleyways with Egypt’s poorest citizens.” (IRIN)

35,180 African refugees are officially registered in Egypt (UNHCR, 2013)

A Brief History Our focus is on those refugees (registered and unregistered),

Learn More: EGYPT: Thousands of refugees miss out on UNHCR living allowance (IRIN) Black Egyptians decry daily racism (Al Jazeera) Conditions of refugees from Darfur in Israel, Egypt and Syria (IJP) 3

asylum seekers, and forced migrants who currently experience oppressive marginalization in the inhospitable host country of Egypt, which made reservations to international refugee laws chartered by the UNHCR Refugee Convention (1951), also known as the Geneva Convention. Egypt's

reservations withhold national responsibility with regard to refugees within their country accessing basic public services and humanitarian assistance, including education and employment. There are no refugee camps in Egypt due to limited land resources. African peoples seeking asylum in Egypt continue to be unjustly marginalized based on political racial/ethnic and religious identity. (

El-Wafaa Refugee Culture Centre was founded in 2006 in Ain Shams, a neighborhood in the outskirts of Cairo (known for its Egypt is one of the largest recipients of refugees from the African continent. It hosts almost 4 million refugees from 28 countries, including 10,000 from Darfur.[iii]


African migrant population) by a group of committed Darfurian community leaders in order to address challenges within the refugee population in Cairo, initially focusing on refugees from Darfur. Initiated by local community members within the African forced migrant population of Cairo, El-Wafaa Centre was founded in September 2006, with the assistance of Student Action for Refugees (STAR), a student-run organization at the American University of Cairo. Efforts by the UN, NGOs, and other service providers in Cairo have proven inadequate, yet leaders from the community are stepping up with unparalleled promise.


“Aided by Abdel-Rahman Siddiq, the center’s manager, classes saw enrollment reach as many as 90 students before the end of the academic year. In total, nearly 300 students benefitted from the program.” (Forced Migration and Refugee Studies at the American University in Cairo – Report of Activities 2006-2007, page 39)

Abdel Rahman Siddiq, Executive Director of El-Wafaa Centre is from Darfur, Sudan, holding a post-secondary degree in English from Sudan. He is a respected and humble grassroots leader, known by his own community as teacher. Abdel Rahman's humanitarianism is far-reaching and all-inclusive, welcoming students into the (refugee) education center – also serving as a cultural and community resource center – regardless of ethnicity, religion or politics. Notwithstanding our focus on African refugees, their is a great need to support those community leaders local to the cause who appreciate and enable the sustainable establishment of human rights organizations providing indispensable services to any and all people in Egypt. 5

Transparency  Web-based multimedia platform updated with El-Wafaa newsletters  Community research and liaison with the Forced Migration and Refugee Studies department at AUC  Regular teleconference appointments with ElWafaa directorship, staff and community with international donors and networks 6

Accountability  Regular 3-month reports formally issued to donors and international network updating on resource allocation in Cairo  Partnerships with leading figures in foreign aid and refugee rights, e.g. Barbara Harrell-Bond, founder of Refugee Studies at Oxford University and Samantha Nutt, author of Damned Nations

Sustainability  Enriching local leaders to access a broader resource base, while focusing independent means as primary  Three year assessment program, after which community-based participatory research will survey the degree of dependence on external resources  Success is an operative, autonomous center

“Neither African nor Iraqi refugees or migrants see Egypt as a desirable place to live. Africans, in particular, face racial discrimination, little chance for resettlement, and few job opportunities except for women to work as domestic servants.” “According to UNHCR, approximately 2,000 migrants, primarily from Sudan, Eritrea, and Ethiopia enter Egypt every month. He said most do not register with UNHCR, but instead try to make their way to Europe or Israel.” (WikiLeaks to The Telegraph)

Current Centre Needs in Maadi, Cairo: “The traffickers chain together groups of men and women; pour molten plastic on their bodies; deprive them of food, water and sleep; subject them to vicious beatings and electric shocks; and force them to smoke hashish and rape one another, according to survivors interviewed by The Washington Times. They forced us to behave like animals,” Mr. Habte said in a phone interview from Cairo, where he was released in May after his sister in Australia paid a $40,000 ransom. In Eritrea, Mr. Habte was persecuted because of his religion.” (Washington Times, July 21, 2013) El-Wafaa Refugee Culture Centre Abdel Rahman -

Read more: Hanson - saw-hell-refugees-are-easy-prey-for-bru/#ixzz2ZxhB8vWi Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

2013-2014 Budget  Centre Rent  Office Resources  External Programs

El-Wafaa Refugee Culture Centre Brochure  

El-Wafaa Refugee Culture Centre was founded in 2006 in Ain Shams, a neighborhood in the outskirts of Cairo (known for its African migrant po...

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