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Thursday, March 17, 2011

IR USA's CEO meets with officials in Egypt

March 17, 2011 -- Islamic Relief USA’s CEO, Abed Ayoub, is in Egypt this week, meeting with high-level officials in an effort to expand IR’s programs to help the needy in the country and throughout the region.

Ayoub has met with Minister of Health Ashraf Hatem, Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa and Al-Azhar Shaykh Ahmed el-Tayeb and has scheduled a meeting later this week with Minister of Development Gouda Abdel Khalek.

Ayoub and Hatem discussed plans Islamic Relief will explore implementing in cooperation with the health ministry. Among them:

• Send a shipment of medicine to clinics and hospitals. “Together we will decide the clinics and hospitals where they will be distributed,” Ayoub said.

• Send supplies such as wheelchairs, emergency kits, hygiene kits, blankets and milk powder to refugees who fled violence in Libya and crossed into Egypt.

• Send doctors to perform surgeries and train local physicians in remote villages in Egypt

In the other meetings, Ayoub said he received the support of the grand mufti and Al-Azhar’s imam for projects in Egypt such as support for families and orphans. “Insha Allah, together we will start developing projects,” he said. “They will help us to identify the needy families.”

During his trip, Ayoub traveled to many cities in Egypt and also visited refugees at the Libya-Egypt border, where an Islamic Relief team met with the Egyptian Red Crescent.

Although there are almost 1,500 refugees in the border region, Ayoub said, “The atmosphere is quiet.” The refugees there now are mainly from Chad, Somalia and Bangladesh, he said. “The refugees from Egypt and Libya and other countries – their embassies came and took care of them,” Ayoub said. But the remaining refuges are stuck at the border, where they have been for three weeks.

“The situation is really bad,” he said. “They sleep on the street. They are hoping things will settle down in Libya. They want to go back to Libya and don’t want to leave the border.”

Inside Egypt, Ayoub said the atmosphere is quiet as well, as a vote on changes to the constitution nears.

“The Egyptians welcomed us with open arms,” Ayoub said. “They want more involvement from the NGOs.”

Ayoub traveled with the Islamic Relief team to areas including Al-Ayat and Bani Swaif to distribute food packages. “We’ve seen people living in very bad shape and they need a lot of help,” he said. “We’ve seen families live on 20 L.E., or $5 per month. We’ve seen a lot of people with no income -- large families with no income. They barely can get enough bread.”

One woman Ayoub met was an elderly woman in great need. “She is 106 years old -- she is legally blind. And she lives by herself. She’s in a very bad condition. Her neighbors come and help her a little bit. She barely can walk. When you see her you will cry.”

The Islamic Relief team brought her food packages with staples like rice, pasta, sugar and oil, and gave her clothes. “We gave them to her daughter who lives next to her so she can insha Allah cook for her.”

The team is now in Southern Egypt, where another food distribution is planned for today.

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