Since the beginning of the conflict in Sudan* in April 2023, about 287,230 people have crossed the border to Egypt seeking refuge. When they arrive in Egypt, after experiencing long and difficult journeys, most Sudanese refugees have limited or no resources. They often arrive traumatized from the tragedy they’ve experienced. Many were separated from their families due to visa restrictions at the border and some lost family members or friends on the way. This has resulted in many unaccompanied children arriving in Egypt without anyone to take care of them.
St. Andrew’s Refugee Services, also known as StARS*, has kept its doors open to receive migrants and refugees in need and has opened an additional 7 hotlines to respond to the ongoing needs of refugees. The concerns of new arrivals are vast and include access to housing, food, medical and psychosocial care. When newly arrived refugees approach StARS, they receive information on what services are available and who provides them. They also have access to workshops about accessing to services. Depending on their needs, StARS conducts assessments and will provide individuals with legal assistance, medical and psychosocial support, housing assistance, and emergency assistance. For accompanied, unaccompanied and separated children and youth, StARS offers educational programs. Working closely with other refugee-led, community-based organizations and service providers, StARS does its best to respond to refugees’ various needs.
One of the things newly arrived refugees are most in need of is affordable housing, a place to call home and feel safe. It is difficult for new arrivals to find housing because they often lack the necessary financial resources or documents. Over the last months, rents for apartments in neighborhoods where refugees live have increased a lot. It is particularly difficult to find housing for unaccompanied children and youth because they are without an adult caregiver. In May, two brothers, aged 14 and 12, came to the StARS office because they did not know where to stay after having arrived in Cairo without their parents. Through its community hosting program, StARS caseworkers were able to find them a home on the same day with trusted community members and continue to follow up with the boys and their ongoing needs, including psychosocial support. The same month, StARS was approached by a newly arrived 18-year-old unaccompanied young mother who did not know where to go to receive medical care and needed money for food or diapers. StARS’ caseworkers made sure she got the medical care she needed, accompanied her to the hospital and supported her until she and her child had a safe home. StARS continues to also provide cash assistance in order to decrease the risks of eviction and homelessness and help the mother and her child to stabilize their situation.
As a refugee-led organization, the conflict in Sudan and the experiences of new arrivals hits home for StARS, its staff and its clients. Often, StARS staff have also opened their homes to support newly arrived relatives, friends or community members they never met before. Now more than ever, StARS staff continue to work tirelessly every day to support all refugees.
*The ongoing conflict in Sudan began on April 15, 2023, as a result of violent clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces. It has resulted in the displacement of over 3.3 million individuals who have been internally displaced or left to neighboring countries such as Egypt. This conflict has exacerbated Sudan’s existing challenges, including ongoing conflicts, disease outbreaks, economic and political instability, and climate emergencies. It has also led to extreme shortages of essential goods and a surge in prices, making it a dire humanitarian crisis.
*StARS is a refugee- and women-led service provider that connects refugees in Cairo to educational, legal, medical, psychosocial, housing and other services. Since the start of the conflict in Sudan in April, StARS has opened its doors to hundreds of Sudanese refugees. To learn more about CWS’ work with refugees around the world, click here.