November 26, 2022

U.S. government concerned over human rights abuses in Egypt, USAID chief Samantha Power tells Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat

An Egyptian intelligence security detail member stands guard near a banner showing President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. © 2021 Mahmud Hams/AFP via Getty Images
An Egyptian intelligence security detail member stands guard near a banner showing President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. © 2021 Mahmud Hams/AFP via Getty Images

Last updated on August 14th, 2022 at 09:41 am

The Biden administration is concerned about human rights abuses in Egypt, the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Samantha Power, told Egyptian Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat on Monday.

USAID Administrator Samantha Power visits Tuskegee University in January 2022 to launch a new partnership that will open more pathways for students to access careers in global development, as well as leverage the university’s expertise in food resilience, nutrition, and climate adaptation to end hunger and advance water for the world. Photo credit: Malik Melton

Both leaders also “reflected on the food security challenges posed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and USAID’s desire to support Egypt in its efforts to employ innovative solutions to mitigate the impact of rising food prices on national budgets and vulnerable households.

“Today, Administrator Samantha Power met with Dr. Rania Al-Mashat, Egyptian Minister of International Cooperation, to discuss shared priorities and discuss USAID’s strategic partnership with the Government of Egypt to pursue shared development goals,” USAID spokesperson Rebecca Chalif: said in a statement. “During the meeting, Administrator Power also shared her concerns over the continued reports of human rights abuses in Egypt, including those reported in the Department of State’s recently released 2021 Country Reports on Human Rights.”

Chalif added that Administrator Power and Minister Al-Mashat also discussed climate change as a shared priority. “Administrator Power congratulated Egypt for their selection as host for the 27th United Nations Climate Change conference and noted that USAID looks forward to working closely with the Government of Egypt to host the conference, achieve country goals for adaptation and renewable energy and increase the global ambition for action on climate change,” she said.

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Human rights abuses in Egypt:

Egypt is known for serious human rights abuses. Last month for instance, Human Rights Watch said on sunday that Egyptian police arbitrarily arrested at least 30 Sudanese refugees and asylum seekers during raids in December 2021 and January 2022 and subjected some to forced physical labor and beatings.

Some of the activists targeted had mobilized protests at the Cairo headquarters of the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, over harassment and racist treatment by Egyptians, a lack of protection, and resettlement delays. They also organized a demonstration at the Sudanese embassy in Cairo to express solidarity with protests in Sudan against the military’s political role there. All of those arrested were registered with the UNHCR either as refugees or asylum seekers and were eventually released without charge.

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“Refugees, like everyone else, have the right to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Egypt’s Public Prosecutor should investigate and hold accountable those responsible for arbitrary arrests and mistreatment of Sudanese refugees and asylum seekers.”

“Silencing activists will not solve the issues of the Sudanese refugee communities, whom authorities should protect from abuse,” Stork said. “Egypt needs to uphold its international obligations, which include eliminating discrimination and protecting basic rights for refugees as well as others.”

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