CAIRO, EGYPT

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There are approximately 13 thousand Sudanese refugees living in Cairo. They do not have adequate access to housing, education or health-care. A group of Sudanese refugees from diverse communities have joined together to form an organization to help other refugees in need.

The Naath Community Development Center is a non-profit organization that assists Sudanese and other refugees living in Cairo. The organization is focused on capacity building within the community, and is working towards a self-sustainable model. The organization currently provides a pre-school as well as adult education services, however has plans for future development.

This service has been developed through co-operation between the diverse Sudanese communities who have been displaced in Cairo by the ongoing violent conflict in the Sudan. The meaning of "Naath" in the South Sudan Sudanese Nuer language is "all the people of the world", and Naath Community Development Center wants to provide services to refugees from anywhere in Africa that has been displaced to Cairo.

The major goals of the organization are to promote self-help within the communities, to build capacity within the communities, and to secure displaced Sudanese people with a better life, with dignity.Naath is working hard on projects to provide refugee children with a safe pre-school; adults with the opportunity for education and counseling to those who require it.

These services have been identified as being essential for Sudanese refugees living in Cairo. The organization is based in the Cairo suburb of Hadayek El Maadi, an area with a large Sudanese population with many unmet need.

Background

Sudan has been in a state of war for over 20 years. It is not safe for many people to live there. People are under constant threat of violence because of their race, religion and other factors.

Many people from Sudan travel to Egypt to seek support from the United Nations for re-settlement to safer countries. However, this process can take many years during which time refugees do not have access to housing, education or health-care.

Life in Egypt is harsh for Sudanese refugees. Although Egypt has kindly allowed Sudanese refugees to live in Egypt, it is very difficult for people to access services. Sudanese refugees live in towns and cities among the Egyptian population. The largest number is in Cairo. Because of the high rate of unemployment in Egypt, very few Sudanese refugees are able to find jobs.

Many Sudanese refugees have been stranded in Egypt, living in limbo, for more than a decade. They cannot go back, and they cannot go forward. Return to the Sudan is not an option for most refugees at this time. Many people cannot return because

  • of fear of being persecuted on the basis of race, religion, wealth, power and citizenship once they return;
  • they are impaired by mental and psychological disorders resulting from the war;
  • many are unable to meet the costs of returning to Sudan;
  • fear of violence because
    • the same authorities are still ruling the Sudan and have not stopped arresting and killing civilians
    • violent conflict between local and government forces continues in the Darfur region

In addition, only a very small minority of Sudanese refugees will even be interviewed for possible resettlement in a third country, such as Australia, Canada or the USA.


The estimated total number of Sudanese refugees stranded in Egypt is about 26
thousand. They include Christians and Muslims and are members of a wide variety of ethnic groups and communities in Sudan. All are welcome at Naath Community Development Center.

Naath Cairo Counter

Personal stories from Naath (names changed to protect confidentiality):

They are 3-5 years old. Their mothers work from 8:00am-7:00pm at night. Often, mothers cannot find other people to care for their children. Without Naath Community Development Center Daycare, mothers could not work, and the child would not have anywhere safe to go while the mother works. If the mother does not work, they will not be able to afford food for the family or rent, which will leave them starving and homeless.

With Naath Community Development Center, mothers can go to work safe in the knowledge that their children will be well-cared for by members of their own Sudanese Refugee community.