The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) has sent an additional $21,000 to its long-time partner, Refuge Egypt, to help care for an influx of Syrian refugees who have fled to Cairo, adding to the already large population of refugees in the city, mostly from Sudan and South Sudan.
According to information from PWRDF, 255,000 refugees live in Cairo, including 160,000 people who have come from Syria since the war began there in 2011. Refugees in Cairo are not in camps but “live as they can throughout the city.”
Refuge Egypt is a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Egypt, which has been supporting refugees in Cairo since 1987. PWRDF, the Anglican Church of Canada’s relief and development arm, has provided support for more than 20 years. PWRDF communications co-ordinator Simon Chambers said in an interview that in recent years, support has included two children’s medical clinics that provide health care, health education and nutrition support to children age five and under, as well as to their families.
When a family brings their child to a clinic, they receive a food basket with milk, rice, cooking oil, biscuits, cheese and peanut butter. “It’s part of their cohesive strategy around health, but it is a very tangible piece,” said Chambers. These visits are an opportunity for clinic staff to monitor the growth of the children, check for malnutrition and disease, keep vaccinations up to date and educate parents about proper nutrition.
The additional funds bring PWRDF’s 2015 support for the ministry to $39,352.
The UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) also distributes vouchers for food to Syrian refugees in Egypt, but that program has been strained and interrupted at times by funding shortages.
Funding constraints forced the WFP to suspend rations to refugees in Egypt in early December, according to WFP senior spokesperson Steve Taravella. An emergency fundraising campaign allowed the WFP to resume distribution of food vouchers several weeks later, but in 2015, the WFP was again forced to reduce the value of the monthly vouchers from US$24 to US$16 for January, February and March. “Reducing the value of the voucher like this allows us to continue to help a greater number of people, basically stretching the funds over a longer period of time while ensuring that people have some basic sustenance,” he said in an interview with the Anglican Journal.
Taravella noted that the WFP spends approximately $31 million every week to provide food to internally displaced people in Syria and refugees in the neighbouring countries of Egypt, Iraq, Turkey and Lebanon. “That’s an enormous amount of money for any UN operation,” he said. “And we’re short, so it is still a funding crisis.”