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Sudanese Refugees In Egypt

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The Egyptian Government and UNHCR: A Shared Responsibility

Although the armed conflict in Southern Sudan and Darfur has been taking place for tens of years, this conflict intensifies in recent years, leading to a growing number of refugees and displaced persons. Hence, as the number of the Sudanese people who flee their country increases rapidly in recent years, the world has started to pay attention to the low economic, social, and personal status of refugees in the recipient countries. For example, the violence of the Egyptian police authorities towards the Sudanese refugees who gathered in Mohandeseen square two years ago has pointed the attention towards the extreme suffering of those refugees in Egypt. Fleeing the atrocities that are committed against them in their home country, most Sudanese refugees come to Egypt, hoping to find a safe and comfortable place to live in. The majority of these Sudanese refugees do not consider Egypt as their final destination; rather, they want to be resettled permanently in another European country via the measures of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Egypt. However, a great number of those refugees fail to gain a refugee status and a resettlement in another country. Consequently, those refugees are stuck between the inefficiency of the UNHCR and the ill-treatment of the Egyptian government. Therefore, most of the personal, economic, and social sufferings of the Sudanese refugees in Egypt are a shared responsibility between the UNHCR and the Egyptian government, who should be responsible for facilitating the lives of those refugees.

Those who decide to flee their homes and residents in Sudan are actually willing to live a comfortable and stable life in a safe place. Thus, most of those Sudanese refugees risk their lives and go through dangerous journeys in order to escape the violence and killing in their communities. In that sense, the Sudanese people who flee their country seek a refugee status because they have "a well-founded fear" over their lives. One of the main destinations to which the Sudanese refugees go is Egypt. This is primarily due to the closeness of Egypt to the borders of Sudan. Accordingly, many political and social thinkers believe that the search for safety and security is the main reason behind the decision of many Sudanese people to flee their country and come to Egypt. For instance, in "Resettle or Return," Michaela Cabrera explores the bloody atmosphere in Sudan, driving many of the civilians to escape this situation and cross borders to Egypt. To visualize the horror that the Sudanese people face in their home country and their desire to save their lives by coming to Egypt, Cabrera states that "Sudanese refugees who escaped from the bloody conflict in Darfur say that anything is better than the atrocities in their country" (Cabrera). Therefore, the bloody fighting and armed conflict in various areas in Sudan are the main motivators behind the decision of a growing number of Sudanese civilians to flee their country and come to Egypt.

However, when those Sudanese refugees arrive to Egypt, they soon find that the situation in their new destination is not much better that that in Sudan. Those refugees are always faced with new forms of suffering in Egypt, including poverty, lack of education facilities, and rarity of job opportunities. Thus, the Sudanese refugees are again victims of social insecurity and instability in Egypt. As observed by Cabrera, those Sudanese refugees who arrive to Egypt "end up unemployed and frustrated, dependent on the good will of family and friends, and yearning for greener pastures abroad." Thus, the Sudanese refugees escape the atrocities which they face in their country to be shocked by the low economic and social conditions which they face in Egypt. In this context, the suffering of those Sudanese refugees during their residence in Egypt can best be described and explained by some of those Sudanese themselves. For instance, Dan Murphy, in his article which is entitled "Few Choices for Egypt's Sudanese Migrants," exposes the suffering of the Sudanese refugees, as described by them. In the article, the author narrates the story of Robert Mori, who is a Christian Sudanese refugee. Although Mori thought that he left all the suffering and misery in Sudan when he came to Egypt, he is stunned to know that his life in Egypt will not be much better than in Sudan. This is reflected in his own words, when he says, "there's no money for us, I don't have a place to live and no one wants to give me a job here." He then sums up the whole situation as follows: "I'd fear for my life back home. Here I'm safer, but it's not much of a life" (Murphy). Similarly, Challiss McDonough, in "Sudanese Refugees Face Hardship in Egypt," interviews a number of Sudanese refugees, from whom he got enlightened about the kind of suffering they face in Egypt. For example, Musa, a refugee from Southern Sudan, declares that he can not think of going back to Sudan despite his low status in Egypt. This is evident when he says that "the situation is still very tense, there is no peace at all, and there is still war" (McDonough). In addition, Martha, a female Sudanese refugee, reveals her miserable status as a low-paid servant, who earns little money to help raise her children. She also stresses the fact that the Egyptian government does not do anything to support those refugees during their stay in Egypt. This is clear when she says "there is nothing done for us, no help, nothing;" she adds "we are living in bad conditions here" (McDonough). Consequently, it can be said that ack of education, job opportunities, and social security are some of the recurrently cited problems that the Sudanese refugees face in Egypt.

Moreover, the suffering of the Sudanese refugees in Egypt is not only caused by the low economic and social conditions; rather, the suffering of the Sudanese refugees in Cairo is intensified with the violence with which they are treated by the Egyptian authorities. Harvey Thompson, in his article which is entitled "Egyptian Police Kill at Least 20 Sudanese Protesters," refers to the Mohandeseen Square incident that took place more than two years ago, and the violence which is used against the Sudanese refugees. According to Thompson, about 2,000 Sudanese refugees camped in Mohandeseen Square for three months, as a protest against both the UNHCR and the Egyptian government. They complained that the UNHCR took too long without reaching a decision regarding their resettlement and that they were treated badly by the Egyptian authorities. In an attempt to force those refugees to end their demonstration and leave the Square, the Egyptian police authorities used



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