A local NGO in the poor area of Manshiyet Nasser is facing possible eviction by authorities in Cairo Governorate, which gave the organization a December 31 ultimatum to leave its headquarters.
The Nebny Foundation is a charitable and developmental organization, originally established in 2012 by a group of youth working on development in the local area, close to the Moqattam Hills. Three years ago, the foundation’s founders spotted a unique area in the middle of the Manshiyet Nasser, where they could establish a headquarters for the NGO. The old one-floor building was originally owned by Cairo Governorate, until then-governor Abdel Kawy Khalifa issued a hospitality decree to hand over the building to the NGO without official permits.
However, following new appointments within the governorate’s organization, the foundation has been receiving warnings to evacuate the premises since March. In June, a police force came to forcibly close down the headquarters, but locals stood in the way of the eviction.
The NGO provides educational, charitable and healthcare services to thousands of poor residents in the area.
The Nebny Foundation said in an official statement released Sunday that it will be extremely difficult to find another location due to the building’s size, which allows for several different activities and ease of access. In addition, the foundation said that it spent large sums of money renovating the building, which had been “two old rooms and a dump of a backyard” before they started work.
“We face the threat of evacuation due to unknown stubbornness and the governorate’s insistence on evacuating a developmental NGO whose only aim is to improve the living conditions of the impoverished residents,” Nebny said in the statement.
The NGO said that it invited the current governor of Cairo to attend one of the foundation’s activities but, according to the statement, he declined. Minister of Social Solidarity, Ghada Wali, meanwhile attended the celebration at the Nebny site on Saturday.
Governorate spokesperson Khaled Mostafa told privately owned newspaper Al-Shorouk that that the governorate asked the NGO to evacuate because it did not conduct its developmental activities as promised, with foundation workers only presenting some evidence of very “simple” work.
“There are other NGOs that conduct bigger operations in the area…we will be asked by other NGOs to provide them with headquarters as well,” he claimed in another remark to privately owned newspaper Al-Watan. “The governorate gave the building with a hospitality decree until they could find another place to operate.”
“The governorate did not intend to give the NGO the headquarters permanently,” Mostafa added.
Reacting to these remarks, the foundation said Wali’s support demonstrates the importance of its social work in the local area, adding that it is now pleading to the Cabinet to halt the evacuation decision.
Facebook and Twitter users launched a hashtag, “Leave Nebny’s headquarters,” in order to pressure the governorate to stop the eviction. Leading activists and popular figures have expressed their support for the foundation.
Singer Amir Eid visited the headquarters, and asked his followers to show solidarity with Nebny, while well-known entrepreneur Ziad Ali called on everyone to visit the headquarters to support Nebny’s “unique work.”