File Photo: Sudanese refugees visit a medical clinic for baby wellness checkups in the Zamalek district of Cairo, Egypt. Photo courtesy of Official UNHCR website.
The draft law proposes the establishment of a Permanent Committee for Refugee Affairs as the primary legal entity on all refugee matters, the statement continued, which will be created within three months of the law's issuance.
The committee, based in Cairo, will gather relevant statistics and data on the number of refugees in Egypt and report to Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly.
The committee will collaborate with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), other pertinent international organizations, and domestic authorities to provide optimal services and assistance to all refugees, according to the statement.
The draft law stipulates that refugees and asylum seekers must formalize their status within one year of the law's bylaws being ratified.
Refugee registration in Egypt
Although Egypt had not passed any laws related to refugees and asylum seekers, it ratified the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, a multilateral treaty which mandates that countries are responsible for providing protection to anyone seeking asylum on their soil.
Hence, all asylum-related activities, such as reception, registration, documentation, and refugee status determination, are handled by the UNHCR office in Egypt on behalf of the government. Once an individual is acknowledged as a refugee by the UNHCR, they come under the protection of Egypt.
After registering with the UNHCR, asylum seekers or refugees need to acquire a residence permit from the Egyptian authorities to legalize their stay.
Last year, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported that Egypt hosts over 9 million migrants and host community members from 133 countries, including four million Sudanese, 1.5 million Syrians, one million Yemenis, and one million Libyans-making up 80 percent of the country's foreign residents.
Egypt is home to over 288,000 registered asylum-seekers and refugees from 60 countries, based on UNHCR figures and registration data, with most of them coming from Syria, Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Yemen, and Somalia.
The UNHCR confirmed that Egypt is presently the largest host of Sudanese refugees, primarily due to the ongoing conflict in Sudan.
Egypt has allowed entry to 164,000 Sudanese individuals as of late May.