Published: 2018-04-23 11:29
Last Updated: 2018-04-23 11:59
The Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged the Egyptian government to allow humanitarian assistance to reach around 420,000 residents in the northeast of Sinai, the organization reported on Monday.
According to their report, since the beginning of the military campaign in Sinai on Feb. 9, the governorate has experienced severe restriction on the movement of people, goods and services including gasoline, cooking gas and telecommunication services.
The MENA director of the HRW, Sarah Leah Whitson, asserted that the restriction on essential goods to civilians was unlawful and likely uneffective.
“The Egyptian army’s actions border on collective punishment and reveal the gap between what President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi claims to be doing on behalf of the citizenry and the shameful reality,” she added.
According to witnesses interviewed by the HRW, army restrictions have disrupted economic activities and the food distributed and sold in the isolated cities of Rafah and Sheikh Zuwayed did not meet demand.
Despite officials denying there to be a looming humanitarian crisis, the shortage of food has lead to incidents of violence and according to unofficial statements unemployment has reached 60 percent as the campaign has affected farming.
HRW provided a number of testimonies of the scarcity of food from residents in the governorate and used satellite imaging to support their claims that traffic and movement had decreased.
The organization also condemned the evictions of residents and the demolition of their homes justified by the government as creating safety buffer zones.
Egypt has been under emergency law since April 2017 after two church bombings killed at least 45 people. The law has been extended four times with the most recent extension being announced on April 14, 2018 in the official gazette.