Middle East

Egypt: Carter Center and other US NGOs refused licenses

Egyptian protesters with flag
Image caption Egypt's campaign against foreign activists appeals to nationalist opinion

The Egyptian government has refused to license eight US civil society groups, including the election-monitoring Carter Centre, MENA the state news media reported.

The crackdown on foreign non-governmental organizations working in Egypt comes a month before presidential polls.

MENA said the Insurance and Social Affairs Ministry rejected the applications because their activities violated "the state's sovereignty on its lands".

The eight NGOs include the Carter Center, Seeds of Peace, Coptic Orphans, the Latter-day Saints Association and others.

Sanne van den Bergh, field office director of the Carter Center, which observed Egypt's parliamentary elections held between November and January, said the government had not yet contacted the group.

Negad al-Borai, a lawyer for Coptic Orphans said: "I do not understand how a charity group like the Coptic Orphans, which works with over 35 churches in Egypt to provide medical and social aid, was rejected."

In late December 2011, Egyptian police raided offices of US pro-democracy groups.

In February, Egypt charged 43 individuals from five foreign NGOs with obtaining international funds illegally and failing to register their organisations with the government. The move sparked a crisis in relations with the United States with threats that annual US aid worth $1.3billion could be affected.

The crisis was defused after an Egyptian judge allowed American defendants, and those with other foreign nationalities, to leave the country in March after posting bail.

Under former President Hosni Mubarak foreign-funded human rights groups were allowed to work in Egypt but repeatedly had their application for licences rejected by the government.

More on this story