Syrians in Egypt: an overview


by Amina Hussein | Hoqook
Syrians in Egypt (credit: Al Ahram online)Walking in the busy streets of Cairo is not uncommon to meet a Syrian or a newly opened Syrian little shop. Since the beginning of the uprisings in March 2011 thousands of Syrians fled the country; the great majority of them took shelter in the neighbouring countries, including Egypt.

Syrians who have decided to come to Egypt did so because they consider it a better option than tent camps in Jordan, Lebanon or Turkey. The cost of living in Egypt is lower and employment opportunity greater: Jordanian and Lebanese job market cannot absorb them and in Turkey they face the language obstacle.

Egypt, as a signatory of a number of international convention and agreements including, the 1951 Refugee Convention, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the UN Convention Against Torture, and the African Refugee Convention, has to “provide documentation to asylum-seekers and determine their refugee status in close cooperation with the relevant authorities”, as reported in the United Nations Regional Response Plan for Syrian Refugees.

Despite the unstable political situation and its domestic concerns, as a rise in violence rate and economic difficulties following the 2011 Revolution, Egypt continues its commitment with refugees, as stated in Article 15 of the Constitutional Declaration 2011:“It is not permitted to expel a citizen from the country or forbid him/her from returning, or to give up political refugees”.

The Government of Egypt allows Syrians to enter Egypt freely and issues touristic visas valid for three months upon arrival. After this period they are expected to regularize their stay through the Department of Immigration of the Ministry of Interior. However, Human Right Watch denounced Egyptian authorities to have deported Palestinian refugees with Syrian travel documents. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has denied this accusation.

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