On the occasion of World Refugee Day, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency and the British Embassy joined forces to honour the achievements and resilience of refugees and asylum-seekers in a reception at the British Ambassador's residence on Wednesday.
The attendees included Egyptian government officials, representatives of donor countries, the diplomatic community, United Nations agencies, non-governmental organisations, media, Egyptian civil society, businessmen and prominent figures who support refugees, including renowned Egyptian Actress Lebleba, Mohamed Mamdouh, Ahmed Hatem, Novelist Essam Youssef and Ahmed El Ghandour.
Egypt is currently a host to more than 247,000 registered refugees and asylum-seekers from 56 different nationalities.
"Egypt is setting an example in the region through the hospitality of its Government and people towards refugees, embracing their diversity and showing solidarity. I would like to seize the opportunity today to thank the generous donors supporting Egypt and UNHCR to sustain this hospitality and I reiterate the urgency for additional funds to maintain the current programmes," said Mr. Karim Atassi, UNHCR Representative to Egypt and to the League of Arab States.
In addition to the health and education services the Government of Egypt provides to refugees and asylum-seekers on equal footing with Egyptians, this year the Government also extended the scope of several health campaigns, initiated by the President of Egypt, to include refugees and asylum-seekers. Examples of these campaigns include the "100 Million Sehha" campaign to detect and treat Hepatitis C, the anti-polio campaign, and the campaign to detect obesity, anaemia and dwarfism among primary school students.
"The United Kingdom Government is no stranger to this generosity. In addition to the support the UK is providing to UNHCR's operations globally and its support to UNHCR Egypt's operation specifically, the UK is also keeping the resettlement lifeline open for vulnerable refugees in Egypt and is the operation's third largest resettlement country after Germany and Canada in 2019," added Mr. Atassi.
"The UK and Egypt have a strong record in protecting vulnerable refugees and combating irregular migration. The UK allocated over EGP 1.6bn to the region, including EGP 73.3m to Egypt, to support Egypt's hosting of refugees in this country. Today, we reaffirm our commitment, and continue our work with UNHCR to raise awareness about the needs of refugees," said Sir Geoffrey Adams, the British Ambassador to Egypt.
As we celebrate the 2019 World Refugee Day, UNHCR continues to see record levels of forced displacement. At the end of 2018, the number of people fleeing war, persecution and conflict stood at 70.8 million, the highest level that UNHCR has seen in its almost 70 years of operation.
This includes 41.3 million internally displaced persons, 25.9 million refugees and 3.5 million asylum-seekers.
According to UNHCR's annual Global Trends report, the current level of forced displacement globally is double that of 20 years ago and corresponds to a population size between that of Thailand and Turkey.
This increase is not met with the same rate at which solutions are being found for people who become displaced. With refugees, the best solution is being able to return home voluntarily, in safety and dignity. Other solutions include being resettled to a third country.