ICC Note: Eritrean refugees continue to flee the turmoil and persecution of their homeland. In order to escape their country, many Eritreans are now flocking to Cairo, Egypt where they hope to find ships that will take them to Europe. Many of the refugees are Christians, forced to flee from Eritrea in order to escape religious persecution. Unfortunately, many find that more danger awaits them after leaving the country.
6/7/2016 Cairo (IRIN News)– Like much of Cairo, the sprawling low-income neighbourhood of Ard el-Lewa comes alive in the evening, once the sun has gone down.
On warm summer nights, children chase cats along streets too narrow for cars. Tuk-tuks weave between the shisha smokers and newspaper readers spilling onto the road as the cafés fill up.
But it’s not just Egyptians out enjoying themselves. Large numbers of young Eritrean men also cluster on street corners, or gather outside the newly opened Eritrean restaurant in one of the concrete tenements, exchanging news in their Tigrinya language.
“There are so many new Eritreans now in Ard el-Lewa,” Filmon*, an Eritrean community activist, told IRIN. “It all changed at the end of last summer. So many started arriving that now there is a shortage of flats to rent and the landlords have increased the prices.”
Cairo has long been home to a small community of Eritrean refugees fleeing war, oppression and traffickers, but local activists say the number of new arrivals has soared over the last year.
In the past, most Eritreans who came to Egypt registered asylum claims with the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, and waited years for a shot at resettlement to Europe or the United States.
But these recent arrivals don’t intend on staying that long. Filmon said most have come to Egypt with the intention of finding a boat to Europe as soon as possible from ports near Alexandria. “They are all just waiting for the smugglers to tell them their boat is ready,” he said. “Ard el-Lewa has become a big waiting room.”