February 4 2011

Situation in the SOS Children's Villages in Egypt is calm

04/02/2011 - After attacks by looters, the situation at the SOS Children's Villages in Cairo and Alexandria has calmed down. All children, SOS mothers and co-workers are safe and staying within the premises which are guarded by security staff around the clock. Schools and kindergartens are closed until further notice.

In Cairo the situation in districts away from the centre is calmer. The main protests concentrate in Al Tahrir and Midan Ramsis square in downtown Cairo. The SOS Children’s Village is located in Nasr City, a district of Cairo established on a hilly site in the residential area of Heliopolis on the north-eastern edge of the city (some 45 minutes drive on light traffic day). Schools, universities and kindergartens throughout the country are closed until further notice, all children and youths in the care of SOS Children's Villages are staying at home.

The security situation in Alexandria remained stable with no protests or attacks reported in the city on Thursday. At SOS Children’s Village Alexandria, all children and SOS mothers are doing well; the village director who was injured during an attempted break-in by looters is recovering. Shops in the town are open; transportation is operating normally within curfew hours.

The SOS Children's Village in Tanta is far removed from any "hotspot"; there was never any threat by looting or violent clashes. Tanta is Egypt’s 5th largest city in the Nile Delta.

The youngsters in Tanta and Cairo are staying at the youth houses together with the SOS youth coordinators. They have been provided with necessary items and can access local shops. No tensions are reported in the vicinity. They, of course, can not attend schools and training either.

With the exception of SOS mothers and family assistants, staff of the national office of SOS Children's Villages Egypt in Cairo and the SOS facilities is working in shifts to ensure continuous presence. Female co-workers are staying at home.

The overall situation remained highly unpredictable and vulnerable on Friday. A large demonstration on 4 February is due to take place at Tahrir Square in central Cairo. Protests are also scheduled in Alexandria. Although the situation is currently calm, a heavy military presence remains in the area; locally it is confirmed that curfew hours in Cairo had been revised and are in effect from 15.00 to 08.00, while state television on the previous day announced that the measure had been rolled back to 17.00-08.00 in Alexandria and Suez. A heightened security presence remains on the streets of the capital. Several supermarkets were reported to have raised their prices amid persistent concerns over food and fuel shortages. Internet, landline and mobile telephone networks remained functional, though text messages (SMS) were subject to some disruption. Intercity travel remains difficult due to road closures and diversions, as well as military checkpoints.