July 22, 2024
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Soaring rent prices in Cairo pose challenges for Sudanese refugees


Sudanese refugees in Cairo are facing a daunting challenge as rent prices continue to surge, leaving many families struggling to find affordable housing. The economic crisis in Egypt has created an opportunity for property owners to capitalize on the influx of refugees, further exacerbating an already dire situation.

Mohannad, a 35-year-old Sudanese refugee, arrived in Cairo with his wife and three children, seeking safety from the brutal war between Sudan’s rival generals that erupted on April 15. Two weeks after settling in the Egyptian capital, he received news from his landlady that his rent would triple if he wished to retain his apartment.

Initially, Mohannad had signed a six-month lease for a furnished apartment at a cost of 6,000 Egyptian pounds ($195) per month, which was already a substantial sum considering the average monthly income for an Egyptian family. However, his landlady informed him that the rent had skyrocketed to 18,000 pounds, citing other Sudanese tenants willing to pay even higher prices.

As tensions escalated, Mohannad faced additional challenges, including a break-in and looting at his home in Khartoum. When he refused the exorbitant increase in rent, his landlady resorted to intimidation tactics such as cutting off utilities and encouraging her children to harass Mohannad and his family. Eventually, unable to bear the situation any longer, Mohannad and his family were forced to relocate.

Sadly, this plight is not unique to Mohannad. Many Sudanese refugees in Egypt are encountering similar ordeals as the country battles its worst-ever economic crisis. Inflation rates reached a staggering 36.8 percent in June, and the Egyptian pound has significantly depreciated against the US dollar since last year. The consequent erosion of purchasing power has left families struggling to make ends meet, while refugees face even greater hardships.

Realtors in the satellite city of 6 October, west of Cairo, have reported a sharp surge in demand from Sudanese families seeking housing close to the offices of the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR. However, the available rental properties quickly became scarce, prompting a disproportionate rise in rent prices.

“The average rent for a furnished apartment used to be 7,000-8,000 pounds, now it’s up to 10,000 and more the closer you are to the UNHCR offices,” revealed Mohamed, an independent realtor who requested anonymity for fear of government scrutiny.

Similar price hikes have been observed in the traditionally affluent Heliopolis neighborhood in eastern Cairo, where rent prices have skyrocketed from rates comparable to 6 October to as high as 12,000 pounds within a matter of months.

Ashraf, a Sudanese man in his 40s, managed to secure an unfurnished apartment in Hadayek al-Ahram, a working-class neighborhood near the Giza pyramids. However, within a week, he witnessed prices for similar units surge from 3,500 to 5,000 pounds.

Real estate market analyst Mahmud al-Lithy Nassef clarified that the surge in prices across Cairo is primarily due to residents of central Cairo moving to new satellite cities and converting their old units into income-generating properties. He emphasized that past waves of refugees, including Iraqis, Yemenis, and Syrians, did not cause similar disruptions in the local market.

Amidst the escalating crisis, some refugees find themselves with no viable housing options. Mohannad shared the heart-wrenching story of a Sudanese woman and her children sleeping on the street with their belongings. Unable to afford the increased rent imposed by her landlord, she had no choice but to endure the hardships of homelessness. Meanwhile, her husband, along with thousands of others, remains stranded at a border crossing between Sudan and Egypt, awaiting entry visas.

As the economic crisis in Egypt persists, the housing challenges faced by Sudanese refugees continue to mount. Immediate action and support are necessary to address this pressing issue and ensure the well-being of those seeking refuge from conflict and violence in Sudan.

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