The United Nations Refugee Agency in Egypt (UNHCR) and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (BA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Tuesday to renew their cooperation.
Following the signing ceremony, the UNHCR Representative to Egypt and to the League of Arab States Mr. Karim Atassi, and Director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Dr. Mustafa El-Fiqi, inaugurated a photo exhibition for the UNHCR under the title “Then and Now – Refugee Voices in Egypt” which highlights the work of the UNHCR in Egypt, the generosity of the Egyptian government, and the hospitality of Egyptian society toward refugees and asylum-seekers over the past six decades.
The exhibition will be open to the public until 9 September at the BA Conference Centre B1 Open Area. The photo exhibition was first held on International Day of Refugees in Cairo in early July, and it is scheduled to tour to other governorates.
The event was attended by representatives from government, the diplomatic community, donor countries, United Nations agencies, non-governmental organisations, Egyptian civil society, media, and the private sector.
“The BA offers precious opportunities to refugees and asylum-seekers. Projects and activities in which refugees participate allow them to develop their skills and talents, alongside their Egyptian peers,” said Atassi. “Refugees and asylum-seekers face numerous challenges in their daily lives and UNHCR works to support them and empower them,” he added.
“Egypt prides itself on being home to millions of refugees, with Jesus Christ, the first refugee in Egypt in recorded history. Refugees live among Egyptians and not in refugee camps, as they are an integral part of our society,” pointed El-Fiqi.
Over the past four years, the BA and the Office of the UNHCR have worked together in Egypt to involve refugees and asylum seekers with Egyptians in various cultural, educational, technical and social activities to emphasise knowledge exchange and community cohesion.
The activities carried out included holding "Refugees Got Talent" programme, with various musical performances from Syria, Sudan and South Sudan as part of the 2017 World Refugee Day and "Heya (She) Campaign" with the participation of Syrian refugees who shared their stories of success on International Women's Day.
Lately, some 100 young refugees of different nationalities have participated in the BA's "Sawa" project, which focuses on encouraging community and volunteering initiatives.
As of 31 July 2018, Egypt hosts more than 233,000 refugees and asylum seekers from 58 countries as registered with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in which 40,000 reside in Alexandria and the northern governorates.