Commissioner of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi called Monday for intensifying help to Egypt, which hosts a large number of refugees, especially Syrians and Africans.
During a press conference following a meeting with Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi and a number of officials, Grandi said: “The international community only recognized Egypt as one of the host countries of refugees after the problem of illegal migration across the Mediterranean emerged.”
He added that he would advocate for Cairo to receive more bilateral development aid to support its efforts.
Wrapping up his two-day visit, the UN official described the current assistance delivered to Cairo as insufficient.
Grandi praised Egypt as a key partner to the UN refugee agency, and reiterated that the UNHCR is seeking to offer technical and humanitarian support for Cairo, noting that the value of UNHCR programs in the country in 2017 ranged from $40 million to $50 million only.
"We've heard loud and clear from the government here that they will not establish any camp or any center ... frankly I think they are right," Grandi said.
Presidential spokesman Bassam Radi said in a statement that during his meeting with the UN official, Sisi affirmed that despite its burdens and delicate economic situation, Egypt has not exploited the refugee crisis.
He said that 50,000 Syrian refugees had returned to their country in 2018, adding there is a need to boost security in Syria to pave the way for the return of a higher number of refugees.
Late last month, the UN refugee agency launched a winter assistance program in Egypt to help 151,130 refugees, including at least 18 percent of children.
Marking Grandi’s visit, the UNHCR said in a press release that as of November 31, 2018, Egypt is hosting more than 242,000 registered refugees and asylum-seekers of 58 different nationalities, mainly concentrated in Greater Cairo, Alexandria and the North Coast.