Interim Deputy Prime Minister Ziad Bahaa El-Din signed a deal worth EUR 90m with the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton on Wednesday when they met in Brussels.
Speaking after her meeting with Bahaa El-Din Ashton announced the signing of the deal and explained the areas in which the financial assistance would benefit Egypt. She said, “This assistance will enhance the access of children, especially girls, to education and will fight child labour in the poorest areas of Egypt.” The money will also support civil society groups to reach some of the “most deprived areas” as well as contributing to improving “unplanned housing” in the Greater Cairo area.
Earlier this week the EU and its European development partners signed a separate agreement with Egypt worth approximately EUR 303m. This deal intends to improve water and wastewater services in Egypt.
Ashton said that during the meeting she had also “raised the worrying reports I have received on the security forces’ violent dispersal and arrests during yesterday’s [Tuesday’s] protests against military trials.” She stressed the need to respect human rights while acknowledging Egypt’s need for security and stability.
The security forces dispersed two protests on Tuesday using water cannons and tear gas under the new Protest Law, which was ratified by interim President Adly Mansour last Sunday. The security forces detained prominent activists who were later released, but the female detainees claimed they were dropped off by police in the desert, which the Ministry of Interior denied.
The Protest Law has been criticised both domestically and internationally. Many of its critics say that it does not comply with international human rights standards. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused the United State of “interfering in the internal affairs of the country” when the Department of State voiced its criticism of the law. Other critics include Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch as well as domestic organisations such as the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Right, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies and the Arab Network for Human Rights Information.