Displaced Coptic families with the governor of Port Said (Photo: ahram)
The number of Coptic families who have fled North Sinai’s Arish for Port Said after a series attacks on Christians has risen to 28 families with 93 members, priest Armia Fahmy, the spokesperson of the Port Said Coptic archbishopric, told Ahram Arabic website on Sunday.
Fahmy says that the families have been housed at the International Scouts Camp, as well as in homes provided by the Mar Girgis Church in Port Fouad and at the city’s relief centre. A number of students have been enrolled at different Port Said schools, with some already attending classes.
The spokesperson said that the Bishop of Port Said thanked the governorate and security officials for providing assistance to the families, and added that the number of fleeing families is expected to increase, therefore requiring more housing.
At the start of this month, the number of Copts who have fled North Sinai to the city of Ismailiya had risen to 143 families.
The cabinet had said earlier that a total 118 Coptic families have fled North Sinai, 96 of whom were given shelter in neighbouring Ismailiya, eight in Qalioubiya, 12 in Assiut, and two in Cairo.
The recent series of killings in North Sinai came after the Egyptian affiliate of the Islamic State militant group called on its supporters to attack Christians across the country in a video in which it claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on a church in Cairo in December.
Several days after the video was released, three Christians were murdered in Arish, bringing the number of Christians killed in North Sinai in the last month to seven.
Several of the killings have been claimed by Islamic State-affiliated militants.
Sectarian violence against Christians – who make up around 10 percent of Egypt’s population – is not uncommon.
Local human rights watchdog Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights reported in August 2016 that in the first eight months of that year, 10 incidents of sectarian violence had taken place in the governorate of Minya, which has a relatively high number of Christian.
On Tuesday, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said that his government is providing all possible help to residents of Arish, who he said were being targeted as part of a “cowardly plot by evil people” designed to undermine national unity and confidence in the state.