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APC in Cairo – Visiting StARS organization that looks after refugees

 

Author: APC     Photo: APC

– This month, Asylum Protection Center was in Cairo, visitin StARS, one of the first organizations in Egypt dedicated to caring for and improving the conditions of refugees and migrants. A unique visit, that had experts of our two related organizations meeting, exchanging experiences in work, sharing methods of care, dilemmas and ideas…

The visit itself was organized so that representatives from our organizations, in sectors of legal, integration and psychological protection, met and taught each other through discussions, as well as observation and certain activities with beneficiaries.

Although we come and work on different continents, in different contexts and with people from different countries of origin, with different cultural, ethnic, religious, historical backgrounds, it was amazing to see in reality how similar we are. This similarity is first reflected in the values and attitudes we cultivate and which permeate and direct the work of our organizations. Today, when we are facing increasing restrictions on refugees, with heightened violence against them, with the lack of empathy, respect, humanity, it has been inspiring and motivating to understand that there are organizations like ours, who, by neglecting equality, return dignity to refugees and who fight for them with all their hearts, despite the increasingly difficult conditions for it.

The problems that refugees and migrants as well as the number of STARS employees who work with them,  are numerous. The treatment of refugees, mainly from Sudan, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia, at the hands of Egyptian authorities and citizens is more than degrading.  Each of them receives some form of discrimination, humiliation, violence or exploitation in their experiences. The Egyptian system that should serve all of its citizens, is often blind to the problems of refugees and is often in the role of the abuser. StARS, according to our colleagues, for most of them is an oasis – the only safe place to get advice, basic health care, a certain level of education, a support system for a more successful adaptation to life in Cairo, but also acts as a solution to practical problems, such as accommodation, small financial aid, and employment…

A very good practice that StARS has begun is the engagements of the refugees themselves, to begin on their own, associate, organize, and support one another. Here we see a double benefit- on the one hand, users are more likely to connect because they can more easily trust people from their own communities, and on the other hand, those who become helpers after having been beneficiaries themselves, regain self-confidence in themselves and their skills, becoming more independent, while developing their potential.

That is the goal of their, but also of our organization – to empower people, to help them integrate and become independent as quick and as easily as possible.

After this study field visit, APC/CZA workers returned full of positive impressions and ideas, with strong motivation – although at times it may seem too difficult and impossible, it is always in best practice and not in vain to persevere.

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