Egypt denies Sinai battle is choking off food and medicine supplies

The Egyptian army launched an operation in February to crush militants who have waged an insurgency that has killed hundreds of soldiers, police and residents. (AFP)
Updated 23 April 2018
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Egypt denies Sinai battle is choking off food and medicine supplies

  • Human Rights Watch warned of a wider humanitarian crisis if North Sinai continued to be cut off from the Egyptian mainland, saying the army’s actions “border on collective punishment.”
  • Air strikes and raids have killed scores of suspected militants, the military says, as it imposes curfews and tight movement restrictions around towns in North Sinai.

CAIRO: An Egyptian military campaign to defeat Daesh militants in the northern Sinai Peninsula is choking essential food and medical supplies to thousands of residents in the desert region, Human Rights Watch said on Monday. The army denied the charge.
The New York-based organization warned of a wider humanitarian crisis if North Sinai continued to be cut off from the Egyptian mainland, saying the army’s actions “border on collective punishment.”
The army launched an operation in February to crush militants who have waged an insurgency that has killed hundreds of soldiers, police and residents over many years.
Air strikes and raids have killed scores of suspected militants since then, the military says, as it imposes curfews and tight movement restrictions around towns in North Sinai. The army has said it is winning the battle.
A military spokesman denied there were shortages, saying it was providing food and medical support throughout the areas it operated in, The HRW report had used “undocumented sources” in its report, he said.
“Thousands of food parcels have been and are being provided to people in North Sinai,” Col. Tamer Al-Rifai, the spokesman, added.
International news outlets are prevented from traveling to North Sinai to report.
Residents said food supplies, medicine and fuel were insufficient and that movement restrictions meant most people were unable to leave the region, HRW reported.
“A counter-terrorism operation that imperils the flow of essential goods to hundreds of thousands of civilians is unlawful and unlikely to stem violence,” HRW’s Middle East and North Africa director Sarah Leah Whitson said.
The report said authorities had banned the sale of petrol and cut communication lines, water and electricity in some areas of North Sinai including near the border with the Gaza Strip.
Residents told Reuters last month they often waited for hours for bread handouts which were not guaranteed to arrive.
Defeating the militants and restoring security after years of unrest that followed Egypt’s 2011 popular uprising has been a promise of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, who was re-elected in March in a landslide victory against no real opposition.
El-Sisi’s critics say he has presided over Egypt’s worst crackdown on dissent. Supporters say such measures are needed to bring stability and improve the country’s hard-hit economy.
In Sinai, analysts and foreign diplomats say heavy-handed military tactics including air strikes and demolitions of populated areas have failed to defeat the insurgency.


Ariana Grande sends love to fans on Manchester attack anniversary

The singer was performing at the arena when Salman Abedi detonated a suicide device last year. (Invision /AP)
Updated 52 min 51 sec ago
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Ariana Grande sends love to fans on Manchester attack anniversary

  • Tuesday is the anniversary of the Manchester concert bombing that killed 22 people
  • Police say 100 investigators are still working on the case

LONDON: Ariana Grande shared a message of hope with fans Tuesday as dignitaries, survivors, first responders and the people of Manchester gathered to mark the anniversary of the concert bombing that killed 22 people.
The pop star told survivors and the families of victims that she was “thinking of you all today and every day.”
“I love you with all of me and am sending you all of the light and warmth I have to offer on this challenging day,” she wrote in a tweet that included a bee, the civic symbol of Manchester.
Salman Abedi, a 22-year-old Briton of Libyan descent, blew himself up as fans were leaving Grande’s concert at Manchester Arena on May 22, 2017. Twenty-two concertgoers were killed, and police say more than 800 people were left “with physical and deep psychological injuries.”
Across Manchester, a 19th-century industrial powerhouse turned diverse and creative modern city, residents made defiant statements of unity in the face of extremist violence.