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UK embassy celebrates World Refugee Day, praises Egypt's contributions

Ahram Online, Tuesday 10 Jul 2018
UK Ambassador Casson, UNHCR
British Ambassador to Egypt John Casson (L) and UNHCR Egypt's Karim Atassi (R) during a 'World Refugee' Day reception in Cairo (Photo Courtesy of UK Embassy)

British Ambassador to Egypt John Casson said on Monday that Egypt has “done so much to support refugees” during a reception held at his residence on Monday with UNHCR to mark last month's World Refugee Day.

Both the UNHCR and the UK embassy in Egypt renewed calls for solidarity with refugees at the reception, which was also held to honour refugee resilience during World Refugee Day, which is observed annually on 20 June.

“We have provided EGP 75.9 million over three years to support migrants and refugees in Egypt as well as EGP 43.2 million towards UNHCR Egypt’s work,” Casson said.

The reception was attended by Egyptian government officials, representatives of donor countries and agencies, the diplomatic community, United Nations agencies, non-governmental organisations, the media, Egyptian civil society, businessmen and celebrities who support refugees.

During the reception, two refugees delivered speeches on the aspirations and challenges facing refugees in Egypt, followed by performances from Syrian and African refugee bands.

A photo exhibition titled “Then and Now – Refugee Voices in Egypt” was also on display at the event to shed light on UNHCR’s work in Egypt, the government’s contibution and Egyptian’s society hospitality toward refugees and asylum-seekers over the past six decades, according to the embassy.

The embassy said that for the past six years, levels of worldwide displacement remained at an unprecedented high of over 68 million people, prompting UNHCR to call for action on three main fronts: solidarity with refugees and host communities, keeping the asylum-lifeline running, and the adoption of a new Global Compact on Refugees by the UN General Assembly in New York this September.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said in 2016 that Egypt hosts five million refugees and immigrants despite facing its own economic challenges, saying that refugees live alongside Egyptians without facing any discrimination. 

As of 30 June this year, Egypt hosted 230,340 registered refugees and asylum-seekers from 58 countries, according to UNHCR Egypt.

“The government of Egypt and its people are no strangers to this generosity, having opened their doors and hearts to refugees from over 50 countries for decades,” said Karim Atassi, UNHCR Egypt’s representative.

“In 2018, the UK rose as the largest recipient of resettled refugees from Egypt and I wish to thank the British government for its generous resettlement quota for refugees in Egypt,” Atassi said, calling upon other states to join the ranks of resettlement countries.

The United Nations Development Programme said in 2017 that Syrian refugees residing in Egypt have invested nearly $800 million in the country since the beginning of the Syrian crisis. 

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