By Amira El-Fekki
The British Embassy in Cairo resumed its services Tuesday after nine days of suspended operations due to unspecified security concerns.
An official announcement on the embassy’s website stated that security issues related to the building had been resolved in cooperation with the Egyptian government.
“I am pleased that the British Embassy in Cairo has today resumed public services in full. I am very grateful for the close co-operation from the Egyptian Government which has made this re-opening possible,” Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said, stressing his country’s strong bonds with Egypt.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s education sector is set to receive a £20 million British investment through the Newton-Mosharafa Fund, said British Ambassador to Egypt John Casson on Tuesday.
The fund results from a September agreement signed between Greg Clark, British Minister for Universities and Science, and Sherif Hammad, Egyptian Minister of Scientific Research, following a visit by an Egyptian delegation from the Supreme Council of Universities (SCU) to the United Kingdom.
Casson also spoke of promising tourism activity during the Christmas holiday season, in addition to mentioning the preparation for a trade mission in January to create Egyptian jobs with British investment, concluding in his statement that “Britain’s commitment to Egypt’s success is as deep and strong as ever”.
In the past week, the British Ambassador has been posting to his Twitter accounts updates on the situation in Egypt. On 9 December, Casson tweeted: “We are working on simple practical steps related to the security of the Embassy building to resume services ASAP.” Last Sunday, Casson tweeted that “Britain’s deep & strong relationship with Egypt rests on relationships between people – not a building.”
On the other hand, the Canadian embassy remains closed, as a recorded phone message directs Canadian citizens in need of urgent assistance to their office in Ottawa. Both embassies had stated “security threats” as a reason for closing on 7 and 8 December respectively.
The two embassies, along with the Embassy of the United States and several others, are located near downtown Cairo in the neighbourhood of Garden City. The area always has restricted car and pedestrian access, with some streets walled off with concrete blocks and barbed wire to reduce the number of entry points and other streets lined with checkpoints and other security installations manned by police forces.
Meanwhile, Australia had also raised its travel warnings to Egypt, but an official at the Australian Embassy in Cairo told Daily News Egypt Tuesday that the warnings are only for Sinai. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade had strongly advised Australians not to travel to the Governorate of North Sinai, including along the Taba-Suez Road, due to the threat of terrorist attacks, in addition to recommending air travel to the resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh.
However, the travel alert had reported concerns for tourists in other areas of Egypt as well, including the capital, saying ongoing protests can turn violent with little warning and “terrorist attacks could occur at anytime, anywhere in Egypt, including in tourist areas.”