FY 10: Mainstreaming Urban Refugees in Jordan and Egypt (Georgetown University)

Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
March 29, 2013



March 29, 2013

For the full report, go to: http://ccas.georgetown.edu/urbanrefugees/cairoamman/



The Iraqi refugee population resides almost exclusively in urban areas. In order to inform its programming and diplomatic engagement, PRM funded Georgetown University to examine protection and assistance gaps for Iraqi refugees in Amman and Cairo. Field research included household interviews with refugees and hosts as well as consultations with UN agencies, government ministries, and local/international NGOs. The report details the living conditions of refugees in the two cities and includes recommendations for policy makers and practitioners.



Jordan’s extensive network of civil society, quasi-governmental and non-governmental organizations has been a valuable asset in providing services for Iraqi refugees. Their roles have expanded even further with the Syrian refugee influx. Shelter was revealed to be a gap as Iraqi refugees have few resources available to improve their physical spaces. Numerous dwellings visited by the research team had leaky windows and walls, mold, drainage issues, gaps in walls and roofs, peeling paint, and/or other challenges. Education is another gap in that Iraqi refugee children are on a trajectory in which they will be less educated than their parents. Their displacement has disrupted their K-12 educational progress, and they have no opportunities for higher education except at high cost.


In Egypt, refugees (and especially less educated African refugees) face similar challenges as the urban poor such as high unemployment rates, insecure housing access, lack of social safety net compounded with barriers such as racism, discrimination and insecure legal status, making them vulnerable to exploitation and marginalization. Improving the livelihoods of Cairo’s refugees was found to be the single most important step towards increasing refugees’ protection, promoting durable solutions, and contributing to their long-term well-being. Domestic work—including house cleaning, cooking, and childcare—is often one of the few fields in which refugees are able to find work. However, abused refugees have little recourse from the Egyptian legal system.





• NGOs that strengthen the position of the renter vis-à-vis the landlord should be

encouraged to work with Iraqi refugees. This includes aiding refugees in knowing their rights, helping them interact with landlords, and finding alternate housing;


• Jordan has many successful public-private partnerships. Education-oriented public-private partnerships should be developed to allow the Iraqi business community in Jordan to provide scholarships for top Iraqi students; and


• Encourage Jordanian universities to build partnerships with Iraqi universities, allowing Iraqis who cannot return to Jordan to study at higher education institutions.


• UNHCR and its partners should fund and make use of labor market analyses to inform programmatic and policy engagement concerning livelihoods for refugees;


• UNHCR and partner governments should advocate with the Government of Egypt to extend the right to work to all refugees. As an intermediate step, the Government of Egypt should consider expanding refugee employment opportunities in the sectors with insufficient labor supply or in industries where Egyptian citizens do not want to work for religious or other cultural reasons; and

• UNHCR should track refugees’ employment to understand where they have gained footholds in the economy in order to tailor training and advocacy. Employment tracking would rely on self-reporting and could be accomplished by adding a few questions about employment and labor force participation to an intake interview when refugees come to a particular program for assistance.


The Georgetown University Research Team also developed recommendations for integration of refugees into the Jordanian national health care system, available here.