Amid the unprecedented challenges to development, natural disasters, crises and the coronavirus epidemic, Egyptian diplomacy affirmed its adherence to the principles and values of humanity and solidarity between peoples. Egypt’s foreign policy has recently shown strong humanitarian support, intensifying its humanitarian and relief aid.
The Egyptian Fund for Technical Cooperation with Africa
The first initiative to create an Egyptian institution responsible for providing development aid was crystallized in 1980. It was based on a proposal made by Dr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the minister of state for foreign affairs in the government of late President Anwar Al-Sadat, to establish the Egyptian Fund for Technical Cooperation with Africa under the supervision of the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The fund has worked with the aim of helping African countries achieve development through technical cooperation and training programs. It has already succeeded in allocating millions of dollars to train African technicians and professionals in many fields, to provide scholarships in universities, and to send Egyptian experts to various African countries to provide technical assistance for development projects.
Since its inception in 1980 and until 2013, the fund dispatched about 8,500 experts in various fields to African countries. It also trained about 10,000 African cadres in Egypt. In addition, it provided financial grants and humanitarian aid and dispatched several medical convoys.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), an organization of former Soviet republics, emerged. Egypt has been keen on strengthening cooperation with these countries through the establishment of the Egyptian Fund for Technical Cooperation with the Commonwealth States and the Newly Independent Islamic Republics in 1992. The fund has organized many events. It also held courses for many CIS countries in tourism, culture, Arabic language, migration, and medical industries. In 2013, the Egyptian Agency of Partnership for Development was established, according to the Prime Minister’s Decree No. 959, according to which the two funds were merged. The Cairo-based agency operated under the foreign minister.
According to the decree, the agency is concerned with providing technical assistance to African and Islamic countries, especially sustainable development aid, providing infrastructure, building capacities, and developing human resources and training. The agency also provides the necessary aid to help these countries cope with disasters, to limit the effects of crises, and to provide urgent humanitarian aid in cases of emergency. It also works to strengthen direct cooperation between developing and developed countries and the various United Nations agencies, and international and regional organizations. This way, the (South / South) and triangular cooperation components become original elements of the agency’s work, both as a donor and as a recipient.
The Egyptian Agency of Partnership for Development provided 25 aid shipments to 14 African countries, including food aid, medications, medical supplies, and logistical aid. This comes as a manifestation of Egypt’s faith in solidarity. The agency also helped Africans face the 2019 emergencies such as torrents and floods, and combat diseases. It also provided logistics and medical care.
Table No. (1): The activities of the Egyptian Agency of Partnership for Development in 2019
|10||Logistical and humanitarian aid shipments|
|15||Medical aid shipments|
Source: “The most prominent achievements of Egyptian diplomacy in 2019 and its goals in 2020”, Egypt’s State Information Service, 30 December 2019.
According to the directives of President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, the Egyptian Armed Forces sends urgent relief shipments to friendly countries, through its specialized departments, especially at times of calamities and disasters. In addition, President Al-Sisi ordered medical aid worth $4 million be urgently sent to 30 African countries to help them in their efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The aid was sent as part of Egypt’s contribution to the African Union’s Covid-19 Response Fund.
The Foreign Ministry cooperates in this regard with a number of relevant ministries and Egyptian authorities, including the Egyptian Authority for Unified Procurement and Medical Supplies, the Ministry of Civil Aviation, the Ministry of Finance, and EgyptAir to send medical aid to African countries. Each shipment weighs one and a half tons.
The first batch of aid in this framework has already been directed to 10 African countries, and it is expected that upon completion of the shipping procedures, the second batch will be sent to 20 other countries.
Egyptian Non-governmental Mechanisms for Managing Humanitarian Aid
The Egyptian Red Crescent, which was established in 1911 as a non-governmental organization, performs its activities within the framework of the principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. It is one of the most important Egyptian non-governmental institutions in the field of humanitarian aid. Since its inception, it has played an important humanitarian role in Egypt and abroad. At times of calamities and disasters, it helps the afflicted peoples within the limits of its capabilities. This is done in cooperation with the corresponding national society in the country that suffers from the disaster, and in cooperation with international organizations and the Egyptian ministries of health and social solidarity.
During the past 10 years, the Egyptian Red Crescent has provided humanitarian aid to people suffering from disasters in more than 40 countries. It has also set up service facilities in many locations to serve those affected by disasters. Recently, the Egyptian Red Crescent sent shipments of support to the Palestine Red Crescent Society, including a set of medical tools and supplies.
As the Armed Forces extended an air bridge to send urgent assistance to Lebanon following the massive blast at the port of Beirut, Al-Azhar and the Coptic Orthodox Church sent a message of solidarity that affirmed the unity of the Egyptian government and people.
Another humanitarian entity is the Egypt Cares Committee of the Doctors Syndicate, formerly known as the Humanitarian Relief Committee. It is one of the non-governmental Egyptian bodies that provide humanitarian aid. Its most prominent achievements in recent years is the medical convoys it dispatched to Syria and refugee camps on Lebanon’s borders.
Through intensifying its humanitarian aid, Egypt is boosting its leading role in the region and building confidence with its partners, especially in Africa. Egypt’s position refutes the claims that it is standing in the way of its neighbors’ interests and development efforts. Egypt has formed a network of institutions that participate in providing humanitarian relief, including government agencies, civil society, and private sector donations. This indicates Egypt will play an active role in this field in the coming phase.