Restaurants selling shawerma, roasted chicken, tabula, and fattoush are on each corner of the street. In the shops, you can find Syrian-made olive oil, halloumi and labenah cheese, and zataar. The zataar is packed into small bags that read: “Egyptian industry made with Syrian hands.” Syrian and Egyptian families walk in and out of the stores, and gather to eat at the restaurants in what has become known as the “little Damascus”, a Syrian neighbourhood of 6th of October City.
Most of the Syrians who work in Egypt have resided in the country for more than a year, but now many are now keen on travelling. Although the influx of refugees was high when the conflict in Syria, reaching over 139,500 registered refugees according to UNHCR statistics, it has now declined as hundreds of Syrian refugees are now leaving Egypt using official and non-official methods of travel.
According to Human Rights Watch, Egyptian authorities have detained and deported hundreds of Syrian refugees over the past year. Many new state policies have also made life more difficult for Syrians living in Egypt. Dealing with residence and visa paperwork has become a more bureaucratic process, Syrians say. A large number of the Syrians currently residing in Egypt do not have visas and thus cannot register their children in schools or get proper jobs.
Photos by Jihad Abaza