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Refugees in urban Egypt: it’s time to reassess UNHCR’s 2009 Policy on refugee protection and solutions in urban areas

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated over 250,000 ‘persons of concern’ were in Egypt at the end of 2015. That does not include people who have not approached UNHCR, or those who applied unsuccessfully for refugee status — the ‘closed files’ group. Tens of thousands of such people remain in Egypt in very difficult living conditions. To understand how a country that relies almost solely on UNHCR for refugee-related matters can cope with the increasing influxes, it is essential that policies and processes for determining refugee status are re-examined. This briefing assesses how UNHCR’s 2009 policy on refuges in cities could be further developed to help resolve the difficulties faced in Egypt.

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Urban areas are increasingly the sites of humanitarian crises, from natural disasters to conflict and displacement. Through a programme of research, documenting and learning from experience and development of tools and approaches, IIED is working to build the knowledge and capacity to respond of humanitarian actors working in urban areas, and of urban actors facing humanitarian crises.

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Urban Crises Learning Fund