CAIRO: Relations between the European Union (EU) and Egypt are “very good” and there will be future cooperation on security between the two, according to EU Delegation to Egypt Ambassador James Moran in comments to The Cairo Post Sunday.
Moran’s comments came in light of the EU Ambassadors to Egypt being summoned Tuesday by the Foreign Ministry over comments made by Italian United Nations Human Rights Council Representative Maurizio Enrico Serra on what he called the “deteriorating” human rights situation in Egypt.
“We did make reference in the previous statement that we recognize the concerns in the security situation in this country and in this region as a whole, and we want to cooperate with Egypt on that,” Moran said.
“The rights situation in Egypt is marked by indiscriminate detentions and disproportionate sentencing – including the death penalty,” said Serra during the 27th session of the U.N. Human Rights Council Tuesday.
The remarks were slammed by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, which said via a spokesperson that amid “escalating terrorist operations” in Egypt, the comments “lacked objectivity and tact,” and led to questions about the EU’s role in fighting terrorism.
“We want very much to deal with that in the context of some improvements in the rights situation within the country because they are related—there’s no question about it—but we do recognize that the security situation right now for this country is a major preoccupation for everyone,” Moran said Sunday.
Moran’s remarks to The Cairo Post came following a press conference for the signing of an agreement between the EU and the U.N. World Food Program at the Conrad hotel in Cairo.
“We look forward to working closely with the government of Egypt, civil society organizations and local communities on this critical area, which is so important for the country’s future development,” Moran said in his speech at the event.
The 60 million euro ($77 million) project aims to reduce child labor in Egypt and encourage access to education over the next four years.
The project targets 100,000 children every year and will be applied in 16 governorates, the WFP said in a statement Sunday.
“Up to 400,000 family members whose children maintain their attendance in community schools will receive a monthly take-home food ration that compensates for the wage that a child would earn if they were sent out to work instead of going to school. WFP will also be supporting some 50,000 households, particularly mothers, to start income generating activities that will help keep their children in class,” Moran said in his address.
The event was attended by Egyptian Minister of International Cooperation Naglaa al-Ahwany, Minister of Education Mahmoud Abou el-Nasr, Minister of Manpower and Immigration Nahed Hasan Ashry, Minister of Social Solidarity Ghada Waly and WFP Egypt Country Director Lubna Alaman.
Responding to The Cairo Post’s question on how the program could fight child labor given its prevalence in Egypt and the fact many families depend on it for their incomes, Alaman said the program acknowledged this barrier, but intends to promote education over labor anyway.
According to 2010 data from the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), 17 million students were also working. And, according to the U.N., Egypt’s population size in 2010 reached 78.1 million.
“Thirteen percent of Egypt’s school-age population has dropped out of school to engage in labor in 2010,” said the WFP in its Sunday statement.