Report

Egypt Hosts 9 Million International Migrants, Refugees From 133 Countries Including Sudan

Haffiya Elyas

Egypt hosts 9 million international migrants, and refugees from 133 countries IOM said.

Due to the prolonged instability in Egypt’s neighboring countries since 2019, millions have sought refuge in Egypt, including about 4 million from Sudan, 1.5 million from Syria, 1 million from Yemen, and 1 million from Libya. These four nationalities make up 80% of the migrants in the country.

The International Organization for Migration announced, last Sunday, that there are about 9 million migrants and refugees from 133 countries residing in Egypt, representing 8.7% of the Egyptian population (103,655,989).

Due to the prolonged instability in Egypt’s neighboring countries since 2019, millions have sought refuge in Egypt, including about 4 million from Sudan, 1.5 million from Syria, 1 million from Yemen, and 1 million from Libya. These four nationalities make up 80% of the migrants in the country.

The IOM said that the average age of migrants in Egypt was 35 years, with a balanced proportion of males (50.4%) and females (49.6%). The majority (56%) resides in five governorates: Cairo, Giza, Alexandria, Damietta, and Daqahleya. The rest live in Assiut, Aswan, Gharbia, Ismailia, Luxor, Matrouh, Menoufiya, Minya, Port Said, Qaliubeya, Qena, Red Sea, South Sinai, Sharqiya, Sohag, and Suez.

The data collected from embassies and studies conducted by the IOM also revealed that more than one-third of the migrants in Egypt (37%) work in stable jobs, which indicates that they contribute positively to the labor market and economy. For example, Syrians, who make up 17% of the migrants in Egypt, are considered among the best nationalities that contribute positively to the Egyptian labor market and economy. There are 30,000 registered Syrian investors in Egypt with a total investment of about $1bn, which reflects the importance of promoting the integration of migrants for its positive impact on the host communities.

Regarding the length of stay of migrants in Egypt, the data showed that 60% of international migrants living in Egypt are well-integrated for more than 10 years (5.5 million people), with 6% living well-integrated into Egyptian society for 15 years or more (including second generations).

The IOM considers a migrant to be “any person who moves across an international border or within a State away from his or her usual place of residence, regardless of the person’s legal status; whether the movement is voluntary or involuntary; what are the reasons for moving or what is the length of stay.”

It is worth noting that, strengthening Egypt’s Refugee Programs over the past two years, the number of registered refugees and asylum seekers in Egypt has increased by 21 percent. Today, Egypt is among the highest destination countries in Africa receiving documented and undocumented immigrants. Many are African, Yemeni, or Syrian refugees fleeing political instability, conflict, and civil war.

Despite Egypt’s hospitality and migrant support system, economic reforms and rising costs have impacted immigrants in Egypt particularly hard. Due to the country’s high unemployment rate and a weak economy, many Egyptians are concerned about the strain refugees place on the country’s resources and infrastructure. As a result, refugees are without access to education, healthcare, employment opportunities, and other services. Such issues force many to turn to extreme measures like child labor and early marriages to survive.

Further restricting refugees, all foreigners in Egypt require a permit to work. The requirements are stringent and include an assessment of legal status, employer sponsorship, and non-competition with nationals. Employer quotas limit the number of non-Egyptians in employment and employers must sponsor an application for work, which is a lengthy and costly process.

Access to adequate housing is also a challenge due to cost and social bias. Single women and mothers face discrimination when seeking housing due to stigma—many Egyptian landlords prefer renting to two-parent households.

Refugees don’t choose to leave their homes and a good life; instead, they are forced to do so, due to conflict and war. They have lost everything, and it is our responsibility to help them. Accepting and integrating them into the community is as beneficial for Egypt as it is for the refugees themselves.

Refugees do not live in isolated camps but are integrated into society. With support, they have the opportunity to establish businesses and partnerships in street food projects, textile factories, and trade companies—playing an important part in Egypt’s economy.

Organizations like the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) protection services, including refugee registration programs, were a stepping stone to these success stories. However, this program and others like it are at great risk of losing funding.

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