Handbook for refugees in Egypt now available for all

Sent On: 
Sun, 2022-09-11
Newsletter Number: 

Our former Nigerian intern Oluwapelumi Comfort Dickson completed the Handbook for refugees in Egypt after almost three years of work.


Unlike the Netherlands and other Western countries there are no social security benefits for refugees in Egypt, a country that is already struggling with close to 30% of population living below the new global poverty line that has been set at $2.15 using 2017 prices. This means that anyone living on less than $2.15 a day is considered to be living in extreme poverty. Once refugees are recognized by the UNHCR they are allowed to stay in Egypt. The Egyptian government does not provide financial support. The UNHCR provides some support to the most needed, but this is minimal. We had in our learning centre for refugees a student whose father had disappeared, and mother was unable to work. They received vouchers to buy food but no funds for housing and other living costs. That in turn made us loose a brilliant student who was forced to leave education and help generating some income for the family. Most refugees depend on low-income jobs in Egypt and are living in neighborhoods were living costs are lowest. Children usually start working once they reached age 18-20. This creates conditions that makes it extremely difficult for refugees to provide their children with education which could help them to get out of poverty.


Refugee leaders with certificates following the leadership training


Our NGO, the Centre for Arab-West Understanding, not only initiated in 2019 a learning centre for refugee students but also a training for refugee leaders in Egypt. A project proposal was presented to the Diaconaat Christelijke Gereformeerde Kerken (Diaconia Christian Reformed Churches) who in turn presented this to EO-Metterdaad for funding. We carried this out in cooperation with the Anglican Diocese of Egypt who also became the recipient of the funds for this project since it is extremely hard for Egyptian NGOs to receive a permit for foreign funding. We also built a network with the Comboni brothers and sisters and the Egyptian Moral Rearmament Association to carry out this project. Oluwapelumi became project leader and workshops started in 2020 and continued until spring 2021. These workshops/training sessions aimed to equip African refugee community leaders with the necessary tools and knowledge to promote the social inclusion of youths in their community, enhance leaders’ understanding of how to address violence in their communities and other problems they are facing through research and mini-projects (outreach). This project also taught them how to support youths to access legal and medical aid.


Training workshop


This project would have never been realized without the tremendous dedication of Oluwapelumi who was faced with numerous obstacles but never gave up. The first major obstacle was of the covid-19 pandemic which made it impossible for the largest part of 2020 to organize training sessions in person. Oluwapelumi was forced to re-organize the workshops and bring them online. She also managed to get all refugee leaders online which is no small feat in a community that mostly has no computers or internet connection. Also hard were the mini-projects since refugee leaders were forced to think of projects with very limited resources. Oluwapelumi showed them that with a lot of dedication, good planning and networking also small projects can be successful. It is harder work than working with well-funded projects, but it is possible.  Oluwapelumi was in direct contact with each individual refugee leader and was well aware of each person’s challenges, yet she kept a good spirit, always encouraging, always giving them strength to continue.


The handbook is based on the presentations of the various trainers. It took Oluwapelumi a lot of time to collect all material and compose this in the handbook that is available now and have this translated into Arabic for leaders whose English is insufficient. The handbook is not only of benefit to the participants in the training but to all refugees in Egypt. Copies can be requested at no cost at [email protected]. The handbook focuses on African refugees in Egypt but also provides information that can be used by Egyptians in the lower income brackets. We hope this handbook will benefit as many people as possible in Egypt.


Oluwapelumi Comfort Dickson is currently pursuing her graduate education in Educational Leadership and Management. She advocates formal and technical education as a necessary path to save poor refugees and disadvantaged people from generational poverty. She can be reached at [email protected].




September 11, 2022


Cornelis Hulsman

Centre for Arab-West Understanding