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Egypt has not exploited refugee crisis despite lack of international assistance: Sisi to UNHCR chief

Ahram Online , MENA , Monday 14 Jan 2019
Sisi-Grandi
Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi (Right) during a meeting with the the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi in Cairo on Monday 14 January (Photo: Egypt's Presidential SPokesperson)
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Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has affirmed that despite its burdens and delicate economic situation, Egypt has not exploited the refugee crisis despite the lack of international support for the large numbers of refugees in the country.

El-Sisi made the comments in a meeting on Monday with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi, who is currently on an official visit to Cairo, presidential spokesman Bassam Radi said in a statement.

President El-Sisi praised the decades-long cooperation between Egypt and the UN agency, expressing appreciation for the international efforts exerted by the agency in light of the escalating global refugee crisis.

Grandi stressed during the meeting, which was attended by Egypt's intelligence chief Abbas Kamel, that the UNHCR is keen to strengthen cooperation with Egypt, which has a significant role on the regional and international levels in this regard.

Grandi hailed Egypt's efforts in hosting large numbers of refugees of different nationalities while treating them the same as citizens,  as well as its success in preventing irregular migration attempts from its shores over the past two years.

The meeting reviewed ways of combating irregular migration, where president El-Sisi stressed the importance of dealing with the phenomenon through a comprehensive approach that addresses its roots, mainly with regards to development, security and political stability.

The Egyptian president said that Egypt commits to international conventions on refugees and provides them with a decent means of living.

El-Sisi also said that Egypt has not confined refugees to camps or isolated them from Egyptian society.

Grandi stressed that reaching solutions to the existing conflicts represents the first step to addressing the roots of the crisis, expressing hope that Egypt will continue its efforts to reach political solutions to these crises.

Egypt hosts more than 242,000 refugees and registered asylum seekers from 58 world countries. These refugees reside mainly in Greater Cairo, Alexandria and along the north coast, UNHCR said in a press release to mark the high commissioner's visit.

Grandi called for providing further assistance to Egypt, given the large number of refugees, especially Syrians and Africans, in the country.

Speaking to reporters, the UN official said that the international community did recognise Egypt as a host country for refugees until after the problem of irregular migration across the Mediterranean emerged, describing the current assistance delivered to Cairo as insufficient.

Grandi praised Egypt as a key partner to the UN refugee agency, and reiterated that the UNHCR is seeking to offer technical and humanitarian support for Cairo, noting that the value of UNHCR programmes in the country in 2017 ranged from $40 million to $50 million only.

The UN official thanked Egypt for providing education and health services for refugees on an equal footing with Egyptians.

Grandi also urged drumming up support for African states, so that they could bear the high burden caused by the huge influx of refugees and displaced people, whose numbers are growing in conflict areas such as Somalia, South Sudan and Burundi.

Grandi said that Brussels will soon host a conference to probe the possibility of providing financial aid of $5 billion to the displaced people in Syria and neighbouring countries.

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