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February 17, 2011

HSI Assists Animals Affected by Egyptian Crisis

After weeks of uncertainty, relief efforts underway

Humane Society International

  • Loading a donkey with sand. HSI

Whenever the global media zero in on a social and political crisis like that unfolding in Egypt, and the images of a nation in tumult are transmitting worldwide, humanitarians naturally turn their attention to the fate of animals affected by the situation. In the midst of the unrest that led to the resignation of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, that natural reaction turned into concrete assistance for Egypt’s animals and those trying to help them.

During the recent uprising in Cairo and surrounding areas, tourism and associated resources rapidly declined, compounding the plight of animals like horses and camels used in the tourism industry.  Egyptian animal organizations responded with a program of care and provisioning to keep these animals alive.

Through our Middle East representative, veterinarian Hassan Abdelrahim, and via other channels, Humane Society International was able to communicate with organizations on the ground to identify and meet pressing needs for supplies and animal care. As an urgent step, we’re supporting the efforts of Worldwide Veterinary Services, to transport much-needed veterinary supplies into Cairo.

Focusing on the plight of pets of evacuating United States government personnel, HSI worked with the American Foreign Service Association to anticipate and address associated needs. With the news of Mubarak’s stepping down, most of those individuals made plans to return to Cairo, in some cases to reclaim pets they had left with trusted friends. HSI continues to lend its support to these people and to work closely with the AFSA on evacuation protocols.

After current risk and need assessments concerning animal welfare are complete, HSI will consider making further investments in animal care and veterinary supplies—independently or in concert with other local and international organizations. The absence of tourist income and difficulties in moving around the city left a range of animals either unfed or untended for varying amounts of time. HSI is reviewing opportunities in which the underlying infrastructure can respond to provide food and water to animals in times of unrest and service disruption. Such an initiative would continue a steady growth in HSI's presence in the Middle East.

HSI was a sponsor of the first Middle East Network for Animal Welfare conference in 2007, bringing together professionals in the animal welfare field—international NGO veterinarians, grassroots organizations, and technical and academic experts. We’re supporting the conference again this year in Lebanon and will continue our training activities in the region. Last year, we held a training event in Cairo for veterinarians from Lebanon, Palestine, Morocco, Sudan and Egypt. Participants learned the crucial role that spay/neuter plays in animal welfare while strengthening their sterilization surgical skills.