The world is in unchartered terrain as the fight against the coronavirus continues. In a bid to be a global player Egypt sent a C-130 military aircraft loaded with medical supplies to the United States of America to assist in their fight against the coronavirus. Similarly, President El Sisi donated medical aid to Italy. These gestures met heavy criticism.
Critics argued that the donations made by the Egyptian government towards Italy and America’s fight against the coronavirus do not have a reasonable justification. The donations are in direct contrast to the adage, “charity begins at home”.
The cost of masks in Egypt rose to 150 Egyptian pounds ($10), which is four percent of the average income. These rises occurred as Egypt donated 1 million masks to Italy. It is common cause that both recipients of the Egyptian donations have better resources and more money than Egypt. Despite being two of the heavily affected countries in terms of deaths resulting from covid19, they are still better equipped than the African nation.
Egypt is amongst the countries with the highest coronavirus cases on the African continent and they have not effectively dealt with the virus within their country. American media outlets have questioned Egypt’s capacity to donate medical supplies during the pandemic.
In 2019 Egypt made $12.6 billion from the tourism sector. The tourism sector, a country's major source of income has been heavily hit due to lockdowns and travel bans. It would seem prudent under the circumstances and economic downturns for Egypt to spread their resources sparingly. The country needs all available resources to effectively tackle the coronavirus pandemic within its borders.
As the Egyptian government extends donations with the right hand, the left hand is being extended to beg for financial aid from the IMF. In a report, the central bank of Egypt’s governor Tarek Amer said the effects of the coronavirus have been severe. Egypt’s foreign reserves were reported to have dropped from $45.5 billion in February 2020 to $40.1 billion by the end of March 2020.
The Egyptian government has shown an extremely questionable leadership during this pandemic. They have shied away from making the hard decisions as demanded to effectively deal with the coronavirus. Their request for financial aid from the IMF brought criticism that had already been mounting ever since their donations.
The African continent is known for having one of the poorest health systems. The World Health Organisation has spoken of their fears of African healthcare systems being overwhelmed if a severe outbreak is to occur. If Egypt had an excess in resources, they could have extended their assistance to their African neighbors. Instead, they went overseas to assist nations which despite being hit the hardest, are better equipped to combat the coronavirus.
The Egyptian government is extending assistance in the form of donations before they take care of their citizens. The government has failed its people by assisting other nations before effectively dealing with the same matter within their borders. Egypt has reported 4,319 cases of coronavirus including 307 deaths. They are one of the most affected countries on the continent in terms of fatalities and active cases. It is poor leadership to proceed to fight for foreign citizens when domestically the Egyptian citizens need similar aid.
It is unfortunate that if the Financial aid being sought at the IMF is granted, the Egyptian citizens will be burdened with austerity measures to ensure the repayment of the debt. It is a noble thing to assist each other during the covid19 outbreak. However, nations must assist themselves first. The coronavirus statistics within Egypt clearly show that the measures being put in place are not effective. A lot has been done but more still needs to be done and the government should prioritize the well-being of its citizens. The donated medical supplies would have done a lot for the citizens of Egypt who are attacked by both the economic hardships and covid19.
It is not villainous to assist as the world needs to come together to successfully tackle the ongoing pandemic. The need for global unity does not take away the need for sound leadership and proper prioritizing and usage of resources.