Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Egypt-US Standoff Could Hit 40,000 NGOs

By Cam McGrath

"CAIRO, Feb 22, 2012 (IPS) - The ongoing crackdown by Egypt’s military rulers on a handful of civil society groups accused of receiving illegal foreign funds has far-reaching implications for the estimated 40,000 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) operating in the Arab world’s most populous country.

Thousands of NGOs – engaged in everything from nature conservation to eradicating illiteracy and sheltering women from domestic abuse – are collateral damage in a row that threatens Egypt’s longstanding relationship with the U.S.

"This dispute is affecting all NGOs in Egypt that rely on foreign donors for grants," the director of a Cairo- based non-profit organisation told IPS. "Unless it is resolved soon, hundreds if not thousands of NGOs will be forced to shut down.".....

Activists say the government’s witch-hunt of foreign-funded non-profit groups has altered the way ordinary Egyptians view civil society. Many NGO workers claim they no longer feel welcome in the neighbourhoods where they serve the poor, and some have been forced out by angry mobs accusing them of being foreign agents.

"Everything has come to a standstill until this dispute is resolved," said the administrator of a small NGO."

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