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World Refugee Day 2002: Egypt
World Refugee Day, 20 June 2002
UNHCR hosted a civil society meeting on 10 June, with the participation of the High Commissioner, Ruud Lubbers. NGOs, academics, artists, and media were invited, as well as UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, Adel Imam. The discussion focused on the refugee issues in the Middle East.
A dinner concert was organised and sponsored by Mr. Naguib Sawiris, Chairman of Orascom Telecom, to raise awareness on the refugee cause. The audience enjoyed a musical performance by Yuri Mrakadi. Celebrities including Adel Imam and distinguished guests from the art and business communities were present, as well as representatives from UNRWA (the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East).
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Crisis in Libya
UNHCR is working with the Tunisian and Egyptian authorities and aid groups to manage the dramatic influx of tens of thousands of people fleeing Libya. By the beginning of March, two weeks after the violence erupted in Libya, more than 140,000 people had fled to the neighbouring countries, while thousands more were waiting to cross. Most are Egyptian and Tunisian nationals, though small numbers of Libyans and other nationalities are managing to escape. UNHCR is particularly concerned about thousands of refugees and other foreigners trapped inside Libya, especially people from sub-Saharan Africa. The following photo essay gives a glimpse into what is happening at the borders.
Crisis in Libya
On the Border: Stuck in Sallum
After violence erupted in Libya in February last year, tens of thousands of people began streaming into Egypt at the Sallum border crossing. Most were Egyptian workers, but almost 40,000 third country nationals also turned up at the border and had to wait until they could be repatriated. Today, with the spotlight long gone, a group of more than 2,000 people remain, mainly single young male refugees from the Sudan. But there are also women, children and the sick and elderly waiting for a solution to their situation. Most are likely to be resettled in third countries, but those who arrived after October are not being considered for resettlement, while some others have been rejected for refugee status. They live in tough conditions at the Egyptian end of the border crossing. A site for a new camp in no man's land has been identified. UNHCR, working closely with the border authorities, plays the major role in providing protection and assistance.