Egypt’s government announced plans on 8 January to start documenting the country’s refugees and immigrants, which currently stands at approximately nine million.
The decision came in light of a cabinet meeting between Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and the ministers of supply, health, social solidarity, local development, education, and labour, according to a social media statement released shortly after the meeting.
Madbouly, who referred to the nine million as “guests”, emphasised the importance of auditing these numbers to better identify and consolidate what the state gains in return for the services provided to its immigrants and refugees.
Madbouly also stressed the need to document to showcase the various efforts of the state in caring for refugees and immigrants.
Egypt’s Minister of Health and Population Khaled Abdel Ghaffar pointed out that the immigrants and refugees living in Egypt come from around 133 countries, with a male-female ratio of 50.4 percent to 49.6 percent.
According to data from International Organisation for Migration (IOM), the Sudanese rank the highest at four million, followed by Syrians at 1.5 million, Yemenis and Libyans both at one million – amounting to 80 percent of the total immigrant population in Egypt.
Abdel Ghaffar also added that the nine million, who hold an average age of 35, represent 8.7 percent of Egypt’s current population.
“Furthermore, 60 percent of migrants have been living in Egypt for about 10 years, and 6 percent have been integrated into Egyptian society for around 15 years or more,” the press statement reads. “Additionally, 37 percent of them work in stable jobs and established companies.”
The health minister referred to an August 2023 report from the IOM during the meeting that confirms that immigrants and refugees in Egypt receive national services in the education and health sectors on an equal basis with Egyptians.
During the meeting, it was mentioned that the Ministry of Interior urged all those present in Egypt to start the procedures to prove their residence, starting from January 1, 2024.
A recurring question in Egypt’s refugee policies on whether they will open borders for Palestinians trapped in Gaza was not addressed during the meeting.
While Egypt has received injured and sick Palestinians for treatment, as highlighted by Abdel Ghaffar during the meeting, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has consistently rejected the displacement of Palestinians into Egypt.
Egypt continues to play a mediating role in the war on Gaza, but has denounced several times the possibility of a displacement as it would tarnish the Palestinian cause.
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