Humanitarian Crisis Brewing in Egypt's Sinai, Human Rights Watch Warns

Crisis developing after Sissi places severe restrictions on the movement of people and goods in northern Sinai due to a massive security operation against Islamic militants

Egyptian soldiers in Egypt's northern Sinai, March 4, 2018.
Egyptian soldiers in Egypt's northern Sinai, March 4, 2018.Credit: \ HANDOUT/ REUTERS

A leading international rights group warned Monday of a humanitarian crisis in the northern part of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula amid severe restrictions on the movement of people and goods there due to a massive security operation against Islamic militants.

The Egyptian military launched the operation in early February in the restive northern Sinai, the epicenter of an Islamic insurgency spearheaded by the local affiliate of the Islamic State group. The campaign also included parts of the Nile Delta region and the Western Desert, along the porous border with Libya.

The campaign has left up to 420,000 residents in northern Sinai in urgent need of humanitarian aid since the operation started, Human Rights Watch said.

The New York-based group also urged authorities to provide sufficient food and allow relief organizations such as the Egyptian Red Crescent to provide resources to address the local residents’ critical needs.

The military campaign against IS has included severe restrictions on the movement of people and goods in almost all of northern Sinai, HRW said.

“The Egyptian army’s actions ... reveal the gap between what President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi's claims to be doing on behalf of the citizenry and the shameful reality,” said Sarah Leah Whitson of Human Rights Watch.

The military, however, has denied that there is a food crisis, saying it continues to provide food convoys and has opened several new facilities that are selling food and goods and other necessities at discounted prices to the local population.

Egyptian security forces have been battling Islamic militants in Sinai for years, but the violence spread and intensified in 2013 after the military overthrew President Mohammed Morsi, a freely elected Islamist whose one-year in office proved divisive.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

$1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN

A family grieves outside the SSGT Willie de Leon Civic Center following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on Wednesday.

Israeli PM Offers Condolences After Texas Gunman Kills 21 at Elementary School

U.S. President Joe Biden, this week.

Biden Decides to Keep Iran's Revolutionary Guards on Terror List, Says Report

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.

Progressive Jews Urge ADL Chief to Apologize for Calling Out Democratic Activist

Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders with Jessica Cisneros in San Antonio last week.

It’s AIPAC vs. Bernie Sanders in Too-close-to-call Texas Democratic Runoff

U.S. President Joe Biden. Making a historic pivot to Asia.

Biden Does What His Three Predecessors Talked About Yet Failed to Do

Meir Kahane addressing his followers during a demonstration in Jerusalem, in 1984.

Why the U.S. Removed Kahane Chai From Terrorist Blacklist