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Egyptian NGOs send report on socio-economic conditions to UN

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NGOs suggest nothing has changed in lack of socio-economic rights despite subsequent change in leadership

Fifty-seven Egyptian civil society organisations voiced to the United Nations their concern regarding the subsequent regimes’ lack of attention to people’s demands, especially the economic ones.

The organisations sent a detailed report on socio-economic conditions in Egypt to the UN’s Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on Wednesday. Egypt is scheduled to give a presentation on its conditions in the committee’s 51st session held in November.

The signatory organisations accused Egypt’s subsequent ruling administrations, since the time of ousted President Hosni Mubarak and until today, of failing to make use of the political shifts taking place to fix the state’s economic structure. The needed changes, the organisations added, would be in line with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The report discussed the economic conditions in the country in light of the absence of justice. The organisations stated that the economic crisis in Egypt has “intensified the suffering of the people already enduring poverty and injustice”. They pointed out that at least one quarter of the population is below poverty line, while one third of the country’s youth are unemployed.

The organisations said they were mainly concerned because subsequent regimes did not care to fix such basic economic problems. They added that the regimes focused on “short-term reforms” through international aid and borrowing money, which usually pours into “corruption channels” instead of reaching the less privileged.

The organisations also voiced their concern regarding the policies adopted to secure such loans and aids. They said that policies such as cutting down on food and fuel subsidies and increasing taxes on products and services do not get popular support and are not discussed with the civil society or studied before their adoption.

“Despite the current subsidies’ system’s lack of efficiency … it remains the lifeline to many [Egyptians],” the organisations’ statement about the report read.

The organisations suggested that the aforementioned policies have a negative impact on marginalised classes, adding that there are other “more just” alternatives that could be used to secure loans.

The signatory organisations reminded that calls for justice were an “axial cause” of the 25 January Revolution, adding that despite that fact, ruling administrations continue to ignore the peoples’ “legitimate demands”.

The organisations pointed out that the process of policy-making continues to be made in secrecy amid the lack of “trustworthy” governmental statements. They added that opposition parties, unions and civil society organisations continue to be silenced, sometimes through violence.

“Egypt’s subsequent administrations have failed to guarantee transparency and sharing in the decision-making process,” the statement read. It added that such failure led to the increase in social and labour protests.

The report also touched upon the issue of discriminating against women who try to secure their economic, social and cultural rights. The organisations stated that several women are prevented from enjoying their economic rights due to discrimination in securing employment, salaries and working conditions. They pointed out that female human rights activists have been “alarmingly” subjected to sexual violence, which reached “epidemic” levels.

The civil society organisations that prepared the report included the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR) and the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR).


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