By : Sara Ghali
CAIRO: Unleashing the hidden side of the refugees’ conditions in Egypt, the Platform is a one-issue magazine produced as a graduation project of three Egyptian students at The Faculty of Mass Communication of October University for Modern Sciences and Arts (MSA.)
“We wanted to shed light on refugees’ problems in Egypt; people know nothing about their lives; they only think they came to take over their jobs,” Platform co-founder Sarah Magdy told The Cairo Post.
The magazine lines several stories that present the way refugees are treated in Egypt.
They flee their countries due to famines and abuses for better life conditions, but they “stumble upon a harsher reality.”
“When trying to contact some of the refugees, many of them did not even want to see us; they expect no help and trust no body,” Magdy added.
The magazine reported Africa and Middle East Refugee Assistance (AMERA) as saying Egypt hosts the fifth-largest urban refugee population in the world.
Seeking a better life
The magazine draws attention to the difficulties a refugee may face while searching for a better life after escaping from the tragedies and traumas in his home country. However, some of them feel that they have no rights in Egypt.
“I asked them [house owners] for my salary; they refused justifying that I was not doing my work properly and left me on Marina Beach in the North Coast alone without money, food or even my cell phone,” Sophie, a Ugandan refugee who worked as a maid, told the magazine.
The Egyptian labor law does not allow non-Egyptians to work as employees in the public or private sectors, except if their expertise is not common among Egyptians. However, thousands of foreigners work in Egypt, yet without contracts. Some refugees work in houses as cleaners and baby sitters, where they are exposed to insult, abuse and starvation food, according to the Platform.
“The cases we receive have either been exposed to racial discrimination, sexual harassment or lost parts of their bodies,” an outreach officer at Tadamon Refugee Center told the Platform.
Fadel Island: Marginalized Palestinians
The platform allocated pages for a marginalized island called “Fadel” in Abu Kabir, a city in Sharqia Governorate, that hosts 3,000 Palestinian refugees, who came to Egypt in 1948 after the establishment of Israel.
“Over the sixty-seven years, the island has grown isolated, surrounded by agriculture belts, played as a fort separated Fadel from the outside world,” the island’s residents told the Platform.
The magazine shedes light on the living conditions in the island, which they described as “miserable.”
“The houses are made of mud or red bricks, no infrastructure, no education or medical care,” said the Platform.
According to the island’s residents, only less than 10 percent of the children are enrolled in schools. Only five percent of students finish their school education and go to college, reported the Platform.
“When we went there [Fadel Island,] people told us that we should come and teach children as there are neither teachers nor doctors,” Magdy told The Cairo Post.
The residents told the Platform that they receive no NGOs or charitable help, but they rely only on personal efforts or, occasionally, donations.
The magazine calls to government institutions, NGOs and human rights organizations for “humanitarian aid to one of the poorest villages in Egypt, with their ever worsening livelihood conditions.”
The island’s residents are all originally from Beersheba, arriving in Egypt in 1948 after their city was annexed to Israel upon its 1948 establishment. The island is not categorized as an official refugee camp because UNRWA does not list Egypt as a state with refugee camps.