Since 15th of March 2011, the beginning of the war in Syria, an estimated 2.5 million Syrian citizens have become refugees out with Syria according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Syrian Refugees are forced to flee their country every day due to bombs, fighting, or mandatory military service. Arriving to Egypt. A third of them reside in Cairo’s peripheral ‘Sixth of October’ City. About 30,000 Syrian Refugees are settling in ‘Sixth of October’.
When Syrians began to arrive in Egypt three years ago, they were welcomed with open arms. They were able to enter the country without visas. The government made its health and education services available to them and allowed the refugees to look for work. Having experienced their own revolution, the Egyptian people and Islamic organisations were sympathetic to their plight, offering the refugees cheap – and in some cases free –accommodation, food, and domestic appliances. But that scenario soon changed. Public sympathy for the refugees evaporated. Tight visa and security restrictions were placed on Syrians who wanted to take refuge in Egypt. And those who had already taken up residence in Egypt found it increasingly difficult to access the country’s already overstretched health and education services and to find reasonable work.
When they first arrived, many thought that they would be able to go back home in two or three months once the war was over, an outcome which has been made impossible by the intensification of the Syrian conflict. Now they all recognise the displacement will be long-term. The hope of Syrians is to rebuild the Syrian society, having a democratic country and people that understand and respect each other.
Sixth of October, Cairo, Egypt, Apr. 2014.