The Egyptian authorities must ensure that those who have fled are resettled in secure housing, have adequate access to basic necessities and are granted opportunities to pursue education and employment.
Authorities in Egypt must offer “urgent protection” to Coptic Christians in North Sinai and provide essential services and accommodation to hundreds who are being forced to flee their homes after seven Christians were killed in a series of attacks, the human rights group Amnesty International has said.
Local church officials in North Sinai have said the attacks have forced at least 100 families and 200 students to flee due to the attacks.
“This terrifying wave of attacks has seen Coptic Christians in North Sinai hunted down and murdered by armed groups. No one should face discrimination — let alone violent and deadly attacks — because of their religious beliefs,” said Najia Bounaim, deputy director for campaigns at the group’s regional office in Tunis.
“The Egyptian authorities have consistently failed to protect Coptic residents of North Sinai from a longstanding pattern of violent attacks, they must not let them down further now. The government has a clear duty to ensure safe access to housing, food, water and medical and other essential services to all those who have been forced to leave their homes due to violence and persecution,” Bounaim added.
Bounaim said the government must also “end the prevailing impunity” for attacks against Christians elsewhere around the country and “end its reliance on customary reconciliation deals which further fuel a cycle of violence against Christian communities.”
Last week, Kamel Youssef, a plumber, was shot to death in front of his wife and children in their home in el-Arish, the province’s capital. It was the seventh killing since Jan. 30.
Islamic State, also known as IS, ISIS, ISIL or Daesh, recently released a video threatening Christians in the country. IS is also believed to be behind the bombing of a chapel adjoining Cairo’s St Mark’s Cathedral, the seat of the Coptic pope, in December. At least 28 people were killed.
Egypt’s IS affiliate is based in the Sinai Peninsula.
“Oh crusaders in Egypt, this attack that struck you in your temple is just the first with many more to come, God willing,” said a masked man in the video. The group claimed the same man blew himself up in the chapel.
Also last week, a 65-year-old Coptic Christian man, Saad Hana, was shot in the head while his son, 45-year-old Medhat, was burned alive in el-Arish.