Egypt it appears would continue to be in the headlines for sometimes to come, this time however, within the diplomatic circles after disclosure that its Deputy Minister for Environment called Sub-Saharan Africans “dogs and slaves” in Arabic at a UN conference in Nairobi.
A disagreement was said to have occurred among the member states over a resolution on Gaza and in the heat of the disagreement Egypt’s Deputy Minister for Environment got overly emotional and resorted to calling Sub-Saharan Africans “dogs and slaves” in Arabic.
Details about this unpleasant diplomatic incident became public knowledge after a memo written by Yvonne Khamati, the Chairperson of the African Diplomatic Corps (ADC) Technical Committee, to the Dean of the Africa Diplomatic Corps Ambassador Kelebert Nkomani leaked online. The memo gave details of events leading to the shameful comments by the Egyptian Minister.
“During the closing session of UNEA-2, 24 resolutions were adopted by member States, which was a triumph for most countries, especially African countries. However, divisions arose when the resolution on Gaza was not adopted due to procedural issues, that is, a lack of quorum because most delegations had left. As a result, a few African delegations consulted with the delegation of Morocco, in their capacity as Chair of the Arab League and Egypt, with the view to dissuade them from nullifying the resolutions that had already been adopted before the issue of quorum was raised.”
“During our consultations with Egypt, the head of the Egyptian delegation and current President of AMCEN dismissed our concerns by informing that they would speak in their sovereign capacity and to that extent, referred to Sub-Saharan Africa as DOGS AND SLAVES, in Arabic
Khamati told Kenyan news site Capital FM that though the minister made the comments in Arabic, members of the African delegation who heard them understood the vile reference because they had served in Arab speaking countries. In the memo, the African Diplomatic Corps (ADC) Technical Committee demands that Egypt make an unreserved apology for the comments and also that the country be barred from negotiating or taking any “leadership position on behalf of Africa.”
“Furthermore, we believe that the utterances made by Egypt have the potential to undermine UNEP and Africa as its host. Moreover this shows their lack of loyalty towards Africa. Africa has lost trust and faith in their leadership and we do not believe that they have the moral standing to represent the interest of Africa….”
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, in a reaction to the inhospitable comments announced that he had ordered immediate investigation into the incident and that necessary measures would be taken in this regard.
The Foreign Ministry further stated that current information at its disposal shows that no such comments were made by any of the country’s representative at the African Group meeting