The Syria situation is the biggest humanitarian and development crisis in recent history, with implications for global peace and security. As of 31 March 2018, an overall number of 225,728 asylum-seekers and refugees were registered with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). There are currently more than 127,414 Syrian refugees living in urban neighborhoods and shared accommodations, including 16,000 under five-years old children. Furthermore, as of December 2017, there are 4,309 unaccompanied and separated refugee children under the protection of UNHCR in Egypt.
Due to the protracted nature of the refugee crisis in Egypt and the ebbing level of sympathy towards the refugee and migrant populations, humanitarian actors are faced with challenges in reaching all vulnerable families and sustaining the level of assistance.
Due to the economic situation of the country, many vulnerable families are struggling to cope, with many slipping into poverty. According to the last UNHCR’s Socio-Economic Assessment, about 60 percent of the refugees who have been assessed were considered under the poverty line, while 25 percent were identified as close to the poverty line. Regarding child protection, in addition to the enormous physical and psychological traumas that refugee and migrant children have undergone, the most alarming child protection concerns are related to child labor, child dropout of school, violence and sexual harassment.
In the health sector, the Ministry of Health and Population has allowed Syrians to use public healthcare services. With the increased demand for healthcare services, a strategic shift was made to reduce parallel health systems in favor of the integration of refugees in public health services to further increase access to quality and equitable healthcare in an efficient and sustainable manner. Unfortunately, health services are already significantly overstretched in Egypt.
In the education sector, even though the Government of Egypt has granted full access to public education for Syrians, significant barriers remain related to both access and quality of education in a safe environment. Syrian refugee children and their parents report that over-crowded classrooms, bullying and transportation problems are some of their biggest concerns. The additional pressure on the education system, the capacity to absorb Syrian students has been a continuing challenge. Moreover, due to language barriers, refugee children of other nationalities, including Somalis, Ethiopians and Eritreans are unable to access public schools and must either learn outside the formal education system such as refugee community schools or enroll in private schools, which many cannot afford.