World Refugee Day 2005: Egypt

World Refugee Day, 20 June 2005

  • On 19 May a day of activities was organized with the Egyptian Comboni School. Twenty-five refugee girls participated, together with 50 Egyptian girls from the school. Each group put on a show of traditional dances and songs, and took part in games that followed. The day was a great success in breaking the ice between the two communities. Refugee and Egyptian girls were on the same teams cheering each other on throughout the games.
  • An art competition was held between five refugee learning centres over a period of two months. More than 70 children participated and produced over 100 paintings. The best 13 will be used in UNHCR's Arabic calendar for 2006. Townhouse Gallery, one of the most popular art galleries in Egypt, exhibited the paintings for free as part of their support for the refugee cause. UNHCR's Goodwill Ambassador Adel Imam inaugurated the exhibition on 14 June, an event that was covered by local and regional media. The young refugee artists walked through the exhibition with Imam, explaining their drawings to him. Postcards were developed from four portraits drawn by the children and are being distributed in popular restaurants, coffee shops, clubs and many more public places in Cairo. The exhibition ran from 14-21 June 2005.
  • Imam also recorded the Arabic version of the WRD radio spot, which was broadcast on the two most popular radio stations, Negoum FM and Nile FM. The two stations agreed to broadcast the spot for free from 12-20 June. This was the first time Imam had been heard on the radio and the fact that he was doing it for refugees made an even more powerful impact on the listeners.
  • UNHCR supported the annual WRD celebrations held at the American University in Cairo. This year saw many children's activities like drawing, singing and games. UNHCR also had an information booth where its booklets and information were distributed.
  • On 20 June, an SMS campaign was launched, with messages sent out in Imam's name.
  • UNHCR Cairo sponsored a seminar titled "Problems of Refugees in Africa", organized with Cairo University. The Regional Representative and the Assistant Regional Representative both participated in the seminar held on 20 June. Over 70 participants from NGOs, government organizations and researchers participated in the seminar.
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UNHCR Goodwill Ambassadors

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Adel Imam

Adel Imam

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.

On the Border: Stuck in Sallum

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

Egypt: Seeking SafetyPlay video

Egypt: Seeking Safety

Amid the ebb and flow of fighting in eastern Libya, a steady stream of people continues to seek shelter in Egypt and other neighbouring countries. They tell their stories.
Egypt: Stranded at the BorderPlay video

Egypt: Stranded at the Border

Thousands of people are stranded at Egypt's Sallum border crossing with Libya. Many of them are migrant workers, like these exhausted Bangladeshi men.
Egypt: Egyptians Cross Back HomePlay video

Egypt: Egyptians Cross Back Home

A steady stream of people have been crossing into Egypt from Libya. These migrant workers were elated to return home.