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Egypt: charities provide meals during Ramadan, despite soaring costs

April 3, 2024 at 11:42 am

Volunteers prepare iftar (break fast) meal for people in need as part of the tradition of iftar tent and street table in Ramadan, which is called Mawaid Al-Rahman and dates back about 1100 years in Giza, Egypt on 9 April 2023. [Mohamed El-Shahed/Anadolu Agency]

For the past five years, Egyptian Laila Abdel Maksoud and her family have run a charity offering free meals during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan, serving more and more people even as soaring inflation has driven up costs for the organisation. The Egyptian economy was described last month as being “in freefall”.

Maksoud said that they first started out with 500 meals, Reuters has reported, but this year they’ve surpassed 4,000 as millions of Egyptians struggle to cope with record inflation.

A severe shortage of foreign currency exacerbated by global factors including a drop in Suez Canal revenue has hobbled the economy over the past two years. Despite investments from Gulf countries and a financial package from the IMF last month, Egyptians and charities still feel the pinch from soaring prices.

“Every year it’s becoming more expensive and with the current conditions, we don’t know where we’re heading, but we intend to continue,” explained Maksoud.

Ahmed Farouk is the administrative director of the charity Ummat Al-Habib Association that provides needy families with stipends and meals. He said that costs have surged six-fold, sending more people into poverty.

“There’s a category of people who previously didn’t come [to receive meals], now they have started coming,” he said. “I can confirm wholeheartedly that Egypt is moving only because of its people’s good intentions.”

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