Syrian refugees in Cairo, Egypt are struggling to get by. Abu Wadie crisscrosses the Cairo suburb of 6th October searching for a place to park his mini van that serves as a mobile café without arousing suspicions of municipal employees.
He offers tea, expresso and Turkish coffee for sale.
Wadie said for at least thirty families of Syrian refugees, these “espresso vans”, which are increasing by the day are the only means of upkeep.
In this street next door, I can sit and close the trunk of the van if I see the cars of the town hall.
But for several weeks, employees deployed by the city’s mayor roam the streets of 6th October district to particularly hunt for these coffee makers.
“In this street next door, I can sit and close the trunk of the van if I see the cars of the town hall,” he told AFP while looking from left to right.
“We do not face any problems, customers and people are nice, and although I park illegally, I do not No, thank God, had problems, maybe because I’m next to the van, but others had problems and their vehicles were confiscated and they had to pay fines to get them back “, said another Syrian owner of a mobile café, Hassan.
In May, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ratified a law regulating small street businesses.
Egyptian nationals are required to pay 245 euros for licence every year. This is a crippling hurdle for Syrians.
More than 130,000 Syrians account for nearly 55% of the 230,000 refugees registered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Egypt.
After war broke out in Syria in 2011, thousands of refugees have formed a “Little Damascus” in the suburbs of 6th October, on the western outskirts of the Egyptian capital.
Many have invested in stalls, restaurants or pastries that bring ‘‘life’‘ to the streets of this part of the city. Those who can not afford have embarked on street cafés, despite the illegality of their business.
The venture is expensive as it can cost up to 50,000 Egyptian pounds or 2,400 euros, including renting the car and buying the machines.