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Egyptian Mothers Are Angry At How The Government Is Handling A Milk Shortage

Online, people are mocking the Egyptian army after it offered to supply millions of packages of infant milk.

Posted on September 2, 2016, at 11:30 a.m. ET

When dozens of Egyptian families protested the shortage of subsidized infant formula in Cairo on Thursday, the country's health minister announced a solution: the army would supply 30 million packages of infant milk.

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Egyptian mothers protested demanding infant milk for their children. “We aren’t asking for food or fruits, we are asking for milk for our babies, or our babies will die,” one of them said.

But instead of relief, Egyptians responded with anger, accusing the army of trying to take control of everyday needs that affected people's lives.

The controversy escalated after a copy of an open letter sent by the Egyptian Pharmaceutical Trading Company, a government entity that is responsible for importing and distributing infant milk, to President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi was posted on Facebook. In the letter, the company asked Sisi to help repeal the new rule that said a “sovereign entity” (which is often a term used for the country’s intelligence agency) was taking over the importing of infant formula — and distributing it through a private company.

Many Egyptians said the letter was an indicator that the army is trying to profit from yet another business — it has already purchased gas stations, bottled water plants, food factories, and even sports clubs.

“Yes, there is corruption at our company, and because of that corruption a lot of the infant formula went to the candy factories,” a manager at the Egyptian Pharmaceutical Trading Company who asked to remain anonymous because he feared he would lose his job, told BuzzFeed News. “The army said it would solve the problem by taking over importing and distributing of the milk.”

Online, Egyptians used two hashtags — #لبن_الاطفال (kid’s milk) and #لبن_العسكور (the soldier's milk) — to express their anger and mock the army.

أم : بنتي #رضيعة بتموت من الجوع ومريضة وعاملة عملية قلب مفتوح والحكومة منعت #لبن_الأطفال يرضي ربنا ده ؟ https://t.co/iI43eeufgI

"Mother is screaming 'my son is dying from hunger,' she is sick and had an open heart operation — and the government is preventing them from getting milk for their babies. What can I do!”

العقلية اللي عملت ازمة #لبن_الاطفال علشان تدخل تحلها وتاخد بنط هي نفس العقلية اللي عملت ازمة الامن اثناء الثورة علشان تنزل تحمي وتاخد بنط.

"The mentality that created the milk shortage to solve it and be seen as a hero is the same mentality that created the security problem."

طب ما هي اتحلت اهي، الإرهابيين نقذف عليهم لبن

“Now we know how to face the terrorists: we will throw milk at them.”

“Drink my milk only.”

“Kerry: Why are you distributing baby's milk?

Sisi: because it’s the people army.”

Facebook: amir.elalfy.7

"Down, down with the army milk,

Tasteless, tasteless and no sugar"

BuzzFeed News made several attempts to contact the Ministry of Health for comments, but it did not respond. The spokesperson for the Egyptian army also didn’t return calls for comments.

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