Egypt Gives Refugees Access to Health and Education Services

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UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, commends the Government of Egypt for reiterating its commitment to expand services available to refugees and asylum-seekers in the health sector and ensure continuity of existing opportunities in the education sector at the High-Level Officials meeting, 14-15 December 2021.

Egypt has recently embarked on implementing a digital transformation strategy that among its pillars, aims to ensure that the process and content of learning is relevant to the challenges of the 21st Century, for all children and youth residing in the country. Refugees included within the national system are therefore also able to benefit from the important digital investments being made into public schools including accessing the digital Knowledge Bank content platform.

This initiative was complemented with the introduction of the Instant Network Schools (INS) global programme in Egypt, aiming to digitalize 108 public schools to offer education programmes for Egyptian, refugee and asylum-seeker students by 2025 that complement existing programmes. So far, 18 public schools have been revamped and equipped with the technology and connectivity needed to run INS classrooms and programmes in collaboration with UNHCR and the Vodafone Foundation.

In parallel, since the spread of COVID-19 and its negative effect across all communities, especially the most vulnerable host, refugee and asylum- seeker communities, for the second consecutive year, the Ministry of Education has exceptionally approved all refugee and asylum seeker students with expired documents and residency permits to enroll and attend public schools, pending renewal of these documents.

On health, the Government of Egypt has been generous in including refugees and asylum-seekers in the COVID national response plan, in both the healthcare and the vaccination plans on equal footing as Egyptians and despite the limited number of available vaccines.

In addition, refugees and asylum-seekers in Egypt are also included in national health initiatives such as the “100 Million Seha” campaign that aims at detecting and eradicating Hepatitis C in Egypt by 2023; the national anti-polio campaigns targeting children aged up to five years of age; and more recently, the Government’s early detection and rehabilitation of hearing deficit campaign rolled out in 1,346 health facilities across Egypt.

“As a host country, Egypt has been a lead example in the region in hosting refugees and asylum-seekers in an urban setting, providing health and education services to thousands of refugees and asylum-seekers on equal footing as Egyptians. At this point, international solidarity is crucial for Egypt to be able to maintain its hospitality and generous support to the refugee population within its territory,” said Mr. Pablo Mateu, UNHCR Representative to Egypt and to the League of Arab States.

The Global Compact on Refugees, affirmed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2019, put in place a new comprehensive refugee response model. It envisions more predictable and sustainable support to ease pressures on countries hosting refugees, enhance opportunities for refugees to become self-reliant, expand refugees’ access to third-country solutions such as resettlement and other pathways and support conditions in refugees’ countries of origin so that they may be able to return in safety and dignity.

“The Government of Egypt works closely with local and global humanitarian actors to ensure delivery of its services towards refugees and asylum-seekers and appreciates the longstanding collaboration with UNHCR in Egypt to help protect and together ensure they have access to needed assistance to meet their needs and to help their inclusion in national programmes,” said Ambassador Niveen El Husseiny, Deputy Assistant Foreign Minister for refugee Affairs, Migration and Human Trafficking, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Egypt.

The Global Compact on Refugees sets out arrangements to ensure that both refugees and their host communities benefit from this globally-recognized long-term and sustainable support. A central arrangement is the Global Refugee Forum where States and other actors come together every four years to share good practices and contribute with financial support, technical expertise and policy changes to help reach the goals of the Global Compact. These contributions are key to transforming the aspirations of the compact into positive changes in the lives of refugees.

The first Global Refugee Forum took place in December 2019 and was a true milestone in building solidarity with the world’s refugees and the countries and communities that host them.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

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