UN political chief arrives in Cairo to ‘listen to Egyptians,’ evaluate assistance measures

By | 22 August 2013

EGYPT – A senior United Nations official today said he was in Egypt to listen to Egyptians to better understand how the Organization can assist the crisis-torn country, and to report back to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Demonstrators in Cairo, Egypt, stand amid makeshift barriers on 27 July 2013. Photo: IRIN/Saeed Shahat

Demonstrators in Cairo, Egypt, stand amid makeshift barriers on 27 July 2013. Photo: IRIN/Saeed Shahat

Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeff Feltman, told journalists at the headquarters of the League of Arab States that he had wide-range discussions with Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy, but reiterated that “he was not in Cairo to make statements on Egypt but to listen to the Egyptians.”

He added that it was clear that Egyptians have expressed strong views on international community reactions and that Mr. Ban wanted him to listen in order to better understand the situation and understand how best the UN can assist.

Mr. Ban and other senior UN officials have repeatedly stressed that the authorities and the political leaders share a responsibility to end the widespread outbreak of violent protests and excessive use of force which have led to more than 500 deaths and thousands of injuries over the past several days.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) also called on Egyptian authorities yesterday to allow its human rights officers access to inside the country to assess the situation on the ground.

Egypt has been undergoing a democratic transition following the toppling of President Hosni Mubarak two years ago in the wake of mass protests. Last month, renewed protests, in which dozens of people were killed and wounded, led to the Egyptian military deposing Mohamed Morsy. The Constitution was then suspended and an interim government set up.

Mr. Feltman, who arrived in Cairo yesterday, has also met with Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby. Those discussions focused on “areas of collaboration between the United Nations and the League of Arab States,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson told journalists in New York.

They also discussed efforts towards a political solution to the conflict in Syria, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, as well as the political process in Yemen and the UN’s role there.

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