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Human Rights Watch warns of humanitarian crisis in Egypt’s Sinai

Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch has expressed concern over the risk of a looming humanitarian crisis in North Sinai as a result of the Egyptian army’s military operation against terrorist elements there.

The New York based watchdog warned in a report published Monday entitled “Egypt: humanitarian crisis looming”, that the Egyptian army security operation in the region against a Daesh affiliate group in North Sinai has left nearly 420,000 residents in four north eastern cities in urgent need for humanitarian assistance.

According to the report, the security forces have imposed strict restrictions on people and goods movement throughout the governorate.

The report quoted local residents as saying that “the authorities have also banned the sale or use of gasoline for vehicle use in the area and cut telecommunication services for several days at a time. The government has cut water and electricity almost entirely in the most eastern areas of North Sinai, including Rafah and Sheikh Zuwayed.

Read: Egypt army kills terrorist leader in central Sinai

The report warned that if the restriction of movement continues, it could lead to a wider humanitarian crisis in the already economically marginalized region which suffers from continued military operations and house demolitions.

The organization called on the Egyptian government to provide all citizens with adequate food and to immediately allow relief organizations, such as the Egyptian Red Crescent, to provide resources to meet the residents urgent needs.

The director of Middle East and North Africa at Human Right Watch, Sarah Leah Whitson said “a counterterrorism operation that imperils the flow of essential goods to hundreds of thousands of civilians is unlawful and unlikely to stem violence”. Blocking the access of commodities to hundreds of thousands of civilians is illegal” said.

The Egyptian government launched in February a large-scale military operation in the Sinai Peninsula against “terrorist elements” there.

According to official data, the operation has so far resulted in killing more than 100 armed men and 30 soldiers.

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