Egypt issues new permit residence cards for refugees and asylum-seekers

Sama Osama , Monday 28 Oct 2019

Egyptian authorities introduced new digital permit cards for refugees and asylum-seekers instead of permit stickers.

Refugees in Egypt
Sudanese refugees visit a medical clinic for baby wellness checkups in the Zamalek district of Cairo, Egypt, December 2017. (Photo: Official UNHCR website)

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Egypt announced in a statement that Egyptian authorities decided to replace the EGP 40 legal residence permit stickers that were added to the UNHCR asylum-seeker and refugee registration cards with a EGP 100 digital permit card.
The decision came into effect on 26 October.
According to the UNHCR, Egyptian authorities announced last week that the residence fees for the new card will be EGP 570, as the card "may gradually allow its holder to access social services in Egypt".
The UNHCR said in its statement that it had communicated with both the refugee community in Egypt and the Egyptian authorities to reduce the fees, as EGP 570 per card will be a challenge for refugees and asylum-seekers, and eventually the price was reduced to EGP 100.
A source in UNHCR told Ahram Online that the agency works closely with the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since both of them were responsible for managing and legalising the status of refugees and asylum-seekers registered with UNHCR.
According to the source, the Ministry of Interior is responsible for this decision. It wanted to upgrade the old permit stickers on the yellow and blue cards with new residence permit cards issued from the new headquarters of Egypt's Passport and Immigration Administration in Abbasiyah.
The source explained that the refugee registration card (blue card) was valid for three years and the asylum-seeker registration card (yellow card) was valid for 18 months, and each of the cards had six spaces on its back for residence permit stickers, so blue card holders, for instance, used to pay EGP 40 every six months for renewing their residence permit.
Now, according to the source, all these procedures have changed. Refugees and asylum-seekers will get ID numbers and residence permit cards from the Ministry of Interior. 
Any person above 12 years of age will get their own card for EGP 100 per card, and those less than 12 will be added as dependents on their guardians’ cards.
UNHCR’s blue and yellow registration cards protect refugees and asylum-seekers from detention and deportation, and holders of these cards were entitled to obtain legal residence permit stickers legalising their stay in Egypt.
Another type of registration document from UNHCR is the asylum-seeker certificate (white paper) whose holders cannot obtain a residency permit. However, they can use the certificate as proof of a "pending consideration for refugee status determination with the UNHCR Office," and accordingly holders are granted "international protection considerations".
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ahmed Hafez said in a statement on the occasion of the African Human Rights Day on 21 October, which was dedicated to the issues of refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons in Africa, that Egypt always opens its doors to fellow nationals of countries that witness crises or conflicts.
Hafez pointed out that Egypt already hosts large numbers of refugees and that it "spares no effort to provide them with all means of support, while taking into consideration integrating them into the Egyptian society without distinction or discrimination."
According to a fact sheet published by UNHCR in August 2019, Egypt hosts 249,709 registered refugees and asylum-seekers from 57 countries.
Syrians represent more than half of the registered refugees and asylum-seekers in Egypt with a population of 130,371, followed by Sudan with 45,106, and South Sudan with 17,197.
Funds requested for refugee operations in Egypt was $104.2 million as of August 2019, according to UNHCR. 
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