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Posts Tagged ‘Egypt’

Meeting between Minister for Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida and His Excellency Mr. Nabil Fahmi, Foreign Minister of the Arab Republic of Egypt

Posted by African Press International on December 26, 2013

TOKYO, Japan, December 20, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – On December 19, commencing at 5:10 p.m. for approximately 30 minutes, Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. Fumio Kishida held a meeting with His Excellency Mr. Nabil Fahmi, Foreign Minister of the Arab Republic of Egypt. The overview of the meeting is as follows.

1. The situation in Egypt

(1) Minister Kishida said the steady progress with the roadmap is encouraging. The finalization of the amended draft constitution is an important milestone in particular, and he will be watching closely the course of the national referendum on January 14 and 15 next year. He also said regulations such as the protest law and the detention of anti-government activists are a concern as they are issues that also involve human rights and social stability. On the other hand, he is well aware of the struggles the interim government faces in maintaining security and public order. He condemns the terrorist activities in the Sinai Peninsula, and extends his condolences to the victims and their families.

(2) In response, Minister Fahmi said democratization process such as drafting the amended constitution has been progressing, it proceeds based on guarantee of the basic human rights and the principle of the rule of law and he hope the interim-period will be terminated peacefully by next summer.

2. Japan-Egypt relations

(1) Minister Kishida said Japan will continue to extend support toward economic development and socio-economic stability that benefits Egyptian citizens overall, while focusing on Egypt’s progress with the democratization process and the promotion of youth employment, and he announced the provision of the grant aidwill commence for the construction of a ward for the Cairo University Pediatric Hospital, and with the cooperation of the UNDP and other organizations a total of approximately 16 million USD in support is being newly prepared. With the Construction of New Dirout Group of Regulators (DGR) and Improvement of Water Management Project as a starting point, the Japan wants to implement new yen loans also. However, in going forward Japan wants to consider such loans based on explanations of Egypt’s specific efforts toward economic stabilization. He noted that the travel warnings in some tourist locations were lowered further last week, and said he hopes that this, coupled with stability in Egypt’s social situation, helps to encourage tourism and other people-to-people exchanges.

 

(2) In response, Minister Fahmi said expansionary policies are being implemented for improving the economic situation and he expressed gratitude for the new economic assistances and the longstanding assistances from Japan such as Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology (E-JUST).

 

SOURCE

Japan – Ministry of Foreign Affairs

 

 

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Togo: Navi Pillay calls for greater respect of human rights in the administration of justice

Posted by African Press International on December 25, 2013

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 20, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Togo still needs to strengthen respect for human rights in the administration of justice and improve the overall functioning of its justice system, despite some progress and reform, a report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has concluded. The findings are based on work by […]  Read More…

 

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The release of Halawa sisters in Egypt

Posted by African Press International on November 16, 2013

DUBLIN, Ireland, November 14, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore T.D., today welcomed the release of three of the Halawa siblings who have been detained in Egypt since August 17:

“I am very pleased to hear that Somaia, Fatima and Omaima Halawa have been released from detention in Egypt today.

I telephoned Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy on Monday last to express my concern that the Halawa siblings had been kept in prison for almost three months without being charged with an offence.

I also expressed the Government’s hope and expectation that the situation would be brought to a satisfactory conclusion in the near future.

Throughout their time in detention, our Embassy in Cairo has been in regular contact with them, visiting them in prison and providing consular assistance.

I have been informed that Ibrahim Halawa will attend a further hearing in Egypt on Saturday. My Department will continue to provide consular assistance to him and liaise with the Egyptian authorities on his ongoing detention without charge.”

 

SOURCE

Ireland – Ministry of Foreign Affairs

 

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You loose power you get prosecuted – that is politics of the day

Posted by African Press International on October 9, 2013

A president gets ousted. The next step is prosecution. This happens all the time when power changes hands through political violence. The latest action is taking place in Egypt.

It has now been confirmed that the ousted President Mohammed Morsi will soon go on trial. It is slated for November 4th. He is accused of inciting murder and violence.

This is the same man who only a year ago was the people’s heroe after removing the former President Hosni Mubarak who is also on trial.

Morsi’s charges relate to the deaths of seven people. The killing took place during clashes between opposition protesters and Muslim Brotherhood supporters. Place of the violence: Cairo, outside the presidential palace last year 2012.

Morsi will be tried alongside 14 other prominent members of the Brotherhood. While awaiting trial, Morsi is detained in undisclosed location. The Army says he is safe.

End

 

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Norway condemns attacks on religious institutions in Egypt

Posted by African Press International on August 24, 2013

“I am shocked by the widespread burning of churches that has taken place in Egypt over the past week. Norway condemns these acts of violence. All political groups in Egypt must now distance themselves clearly and unequivocally from the burning of churches and attacks on Christian property,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide.

Yesterday, Christians and Muslims in Egypt made a joint appeal to the Egyptian authorities to strengthen security measures to protect churches and other religious institutions. The appeal was issued through the organisation The Egyptian Family Home, which was set up by the Coptic Church and Al Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt’s leading Islamic institution.

“Norway fully supports this joint appeal. I completely understand that many Christians in Egypt now feel threatened. The Egyptian authorities have responsibility for ensuring the security of the country’s religious institutions,” Mr Eide said.

“The right to practise one’s religion is a fundamental human right. I expect the Egyptian authorities to take the necessary steps to ensure the security of places of worship and other religious property,” Mr Eide said.

End

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Egypt: In the line of fire to save lives

Posted by African Press International on August 18, 2013

An injured Morsi supporter is carried away following clashes with policemen in protests in late July (file photo)

CAIRO,  – The killing and bloodshed was already well under way when Salma Bahgat, a Red Crescent volunteer, arrived at Rabaa Al Adawia, one of two sites of support for ousted president Mohamed Morsi raided by the Egyptian authorities yesterday.

“I wormed my way through dead bodies and the screams of injured people who were desperate for treatment,” Bahgat, 29, a dentist by profession, told IRIN. “I heard the sounds of bombs and gunfire above my head. Most of the time I felt that my own life was in danger.”

As the authorities clashed with supporters of the former president, rescue workers, medical officials and volunteers tried to help the thousands of injured.

About 525 people were killed, according to the Health Mhadinistry, most of them followers of the Morsi-led Muslim Brotherhood. About 3,572 other people were injured in the clashes; 43 policemen were killed, according to the Interior Ministry.

Medical responders struggled to get access to the main site for hours, with the police using live rounds and armoured vehicles against the supporters of the deposed president, who also responded with gun shots.

“There was gunfire everywhere,” said Ahmed Faleh, a first aid responder working for the Egyptian Ambulance Service. “I was fully sure that some people needed help out there, but I could not reach them because of the violence.”

Throughout the day, a media battle raged on TV stations and online with each side accusing the other of brutality and citing the most favourable fatality numbers.

Hundreds of metres away from Faleh, Magdy Abdel Hady, a Morsi supporter, attempted to help doctors inside a makeshift hospital in the square treat the growing number of casualties.

“Some of these people could have been saved. They could have been saved if there was somebody to save them”

Abdel Hady, in his late twenties, saw the bodies piling up inside the hospital. A man who stood three metres away was shot in the head and died on the spot, he told IRIN.

“We cried for help, but ambulances were not allowed into the square,” he said. “We carried some of the injured people for long distances to reach the rescue workers.”

Abdel Hady was told later that people who received minor injuries were arrested by police as soon as they reached the hospitals by ambulance.

A friend of his, Ahmed Gad, also at the site, said many of the protesters could have been saved if there had been better access for rescue workers. He saw shrouded bodies of Morsi supporters lying on the ground inside Al Iman Mosque near Rabaa Al Adawia Square.

“Some of these people could have been saved,” Gad said. “They could have been saved if there was somebody to save them.”

Red Crescent workers biased?

Despite the dangers, some aid responders risked their own lives in order to do their job, and in Egypt’s increasingly polarized political climate even aid workers can be accused of partiality.

The Egyptian Red Crescent sent teams to the centre of the action in Cairo, but some of them were given a hard time.

 Menan Samy: “I don’t know how people will go back to living together after what happened”

Among at least 525 people killed yesterday when Egyptian security forces moved to clear a weeks-long sit-in were two members of a civil society group promoting non-violence, called La Lil Onf (No To Violence in Arabic). full report

“Some people think the Red Crescent has links to the Muslim Brotherhood,” said Marwa Alaa, a communications officer at the Egyptian Red Crescent. “This is why they think we are biased, which is not true. We save human life, regardless of any political affiliations.”

When Bahgat arrived at Rabaa Al Adawia, the crackdown on Morsi supporters was already well under way. She was the target of verbal attacks from protesters and people on the streets. Some called her and her team “careless”; others accused them of being late “on purpose”.

“I think there is not enough awareness about what aid workers are there to do,” Bahgat said.

Faleh says he never does his job without being blamed or accused of working for one party or another. Yesterday, he was accused of working with policemen when he took some of the injured and carried them to nearby hospitals.

“Some injured people were afraid to get in the car,” Faleh said. “They said they were afraid that they would be arrested. People need to know that we have nothing to do with politics.”

ae/jj/cb  source http://www.irinnews.org

 

 

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Conflicts causing deaths presents another data dilemma for mortality statisticians.

Posted by African Press International on August 18, 2013

BANGKOK, 16 August 2013 (IRIN) – Varied death tolls emerging from Egypt’s latest clashes are a reminder that obtaining mortality statistics in emergencies is still a disputed, complicated and, at times, politicized task. But tallied correctly, researchers say mortality data can b oost aid efficacy and improve funding decisions.

“Funding to save people, in the aftermath, is driven by death tolls,” said Debarati Guha-Sapir, director of the Brussels-based Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), noting that death tolls are also a good indicator for survivors who need life-saving assistance.

Unlike mortality data from natural disasters, the number of dead from armed conflict can be used for political purposes and thus become subject to manipulation or misuse, according to CRED, which has maintained an “emergency events” database on the occurrence and effects of more than 18,000 mass disasters worldwide from 1900 to the present.

The politics of numbers

In Egypt’s current political crisis, death tolls have differed wildly depending on the source. In the hours following the forcible clearing of a mass sit-in of Muslim Brotherhood supporters by government forces on 14 August, the Brotherhood’s initial death toll was 500, while state TV said four people had been killed.

The government’s toll has since risen to more than 600 while the opposition’s toll is more than three times as high.

Many of the dead in Egypt were taken to makeshift hospitals run by the Brotherhood movement itself, which made outside verification of the figures difficult. The official death count is based only on bodies that passed through a hospital.

Darfur

Sudan’s Darfur conflict, which broke out 10 years ago and for which a ceasefire was signed in 2010, has generated a significant debate on death counts. The UN estimates some 300,000 died, while Khartoum puts the number closer to 10,000. In 2006 the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) published an analysis of mortality estimates from Darfur to examine the methodology behind death tallies.

In Darfur lack of access to some regions of the conflict, inaccurate population data and varied manipulations of baseline mortality rates (death rates in times of non-crisis) led to data shortcomings and disputed death estimates, the analysis concluded.

The US Department of State reported that between March 2003 and January 2005 a total of 98,000 to 181,000 people died, while five other studies produced estimates ranging up to nearly 400,000 people between February 2003 and August 2005. The GAO study judged none of the death tolls accurate, although it noted some estimates were more reliable than others.

A recent analysis (2010) of mortality estimates in Darfur based on retrospective mortality surveys estimated that the overall number of “excess” deaths (those attributable to crisis conditions and not just direct conflict) in Darfur between early 2003 and end of 2008 was some 300,000 people.

However, the authors acknowledged that the limits of data and problems over its interpretation that plagued earlier death tolls, persisted in theirs.

Syria

The Syrian conflict presents another data dilemma for mortality statisticians.

In a complex armed conflict as is the case of Syria, fatalities can be at the centre of political controversy with each party to the conflict wanting to downplay civilian deaths.

In August 2011 the UN Human Rights Council established the Independent International Commission of Inquiry to investigate human rights and international law violations in Syria. But lack of access hampered the commission’s efforts, whose investigations have been forced to rely primarily on interviews with people in camps and hospitals in countries neighbouring Syria.

“Initially, we adopted a methodology that required one of two things for us to count the casualty, A) our eye-witness actually saw the deceased and knew his/her name or, B) our witness was a family member, and knew that his/her family member was deceased,” said Vic Ullom, legal adviser of the Commission of Inquiry (COI).

“For us, that was an appropriately high bar to get over those accounts that are fabricated or exaggerated. However, we only received a small percentage of the overall numbers of casualties, because we could only interview a small percentage of the refugee population,” he added.

According to the Centre for Documentation of Violations in Syria, an opposition website, the fatalities since the beginning of the conflict number some 69,000 people while the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, run by a Syrian who fled 13 years ago who is now based in the UK, puts the conflict’s casualties closer to 106,000 people. Both networks report on casualties from both sides and say they gather their information from human rights groups and activists in Syria.

However, experts warn that in a conflict like Syria’s, while a reliable network on the ground can provide decent statistics, it can also be challenging.

“They’ve got to be active and mobile, and they themselves [must] have good networks in the area that they cover. Being on the ground during a war, they will be very susceptible to all kinds of pressure, including to manipulate the numbers in favour of their political objectives,” said Ullom of COI, who added that it will be “extremely” difficult for such monitors to have access, but not favour either side.

Standard death toll tallying

In humanitarian emergencies, proper gathering, interpretation and use of mortality data can save lives as this database is the basis on which to plan a humanitarian response, say researchers.

Mortality rate is defined “as the number of deaths occurring in a given population at risk during a specified time period, also known as the recall period”. In emergencies it is usually expressed as deaths per 10,000 persons per day.

Crude mortality rate (CMR) and under five mortality rate (U5MR) are important indicators to assess and monitor the severity of an emergency situation, and are expressed per day.

CMR refers to the number of deaths among all age groups and due to all causes, while U5MR refers to the deaths of children under five years of age, out of 1,000 live births during a specified year.

According to the humanitarian guidelines known as SPHERE standards a CMR or an U5MR that is double the pre-crisis mortality rate indicates a “significant” public health emergency.

But one longstanding challenge of tallying death tolls in armed conflicts is whether to count deaths from “war-related causes”, including starvation due to lack of access to farmland in the line of fire, or from treatable diseases and minor wounds when patients cannot get treatment.

Several efforts have been made to standardize methodologies including the Standardized Monitoring and Assessment of Relief and Transitions (SMART), a network of organizations and humanitarian practitioners that has published a protocol for nutrition and mortality assessments.

But getting practitioners on the ground to apply these standards under duress is another matter.

Scarce resources, security concerns hamper data collection

CRED’s Guha-Sapir added: “At this time, there is no agreed-on methodology or even guidelines that could help operational workers who are on the ground to estimate the dead.”

The Harvard Project on monitoring, reporting and fact finding has been researching for the past two years guidelines on a common investigative methodology for mortality statistics. The project targets the work of fact-finding missions and commissions of inquiry mandated by the UN and entities such as the European Union.

A major challenge for such missions is they do not compile raw data, but rather, rely on often unreliable casualty statistics compiled by other organizations.

“Commissions of inquiry frequently operate under broad mandates under scarce resource and time constraints,” Rob Grace, program associate at the Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research (HPCR) at the School of Public Health at Harvard University, told IRIN.

“For this reason, they tend to lack the capacity to undertake a comprehensive examination of all incidents that have occurred in the relevant context. Most commissions of inquiry mandated to gather information about violations of human rights endeavour to gather information about certain incidents that are emblematic of the patterns of violations that have occurred. The task of gathering accurate quantitative information about fatalities is not typically included in mandates for commissions of inquiry.”

Security restrictions are another added worry.

“Other challenges involve lack of territorial access in situations in which the host country has not granted the commission on-the-ground access, and ad hoc territorial access restrictions imposed, for example, by armed groups that control territory,” said Grace.

For Guha-Sapir, a systematic review of how governments and organizations, including the Red Cross and UN, calculate their death tolls is crucial.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) does not conduct mortality surveys during conflict, but rather relies on mortality data from health centres it supports, according to its health unit. For non-conflict mortality data, it relies on national health authorities, local civil society groups, and both national and international NGOs.

“They [governments and organizations] undoubtedly do their best in very chaotic conditions but it is first important to know how they do it. This can give some important insights into what the constraints are and also build from experience,” Guha-Sapir said.

fm/pt/cb  source http://www.irinnews.org

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Trouble in Egypt continues

Posted by African Press International on August 2, 2013

CAIRO,  – After a weekend of violence that brought the country back to the brink, Egypt now stands at an impasse: Tens of thousands of supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi remain in the streets of the capital demanding his return to power. The army ousted the democratically-elected Islamist after millions of people took to the streets opposing his autocratic and exclusionary politics, and refuses to ba ck down. 

On 27 July, dozens of Morsi supporters were killed – most of them shot in the head or chest, human rights groups say – after they tried to extend their protest outside its main sit-in area in northeast Cairo. Since Morsi was deposed on 3 July, at least 281 people have died, according to Health Ministry figures, in clashes either between pro- and anti-Morsi protesters or between Morsi supporters and the police responding together with armed locals in civilian clothes.

The gulf between both sides is growing, as is dangerous rhetoric that could incite further violence. On Egyptian TV, the Muslim Brotherhood is referred to as a “cancer” that must be wiped out. On the stage at the pro-Morsi tent city, Islamist leaders fire up crowds by labelling those who support the coup as apostates. Many Egyptians fear an impending civil war, though analysts say this outcome is very unlikely.

Still, violence and political instability since a popular uprising deposed Egypt’s long-time strongman Hosni Mubarak in early 2011 have destroyed the economy; and the poor have been the first to pay the price.

“The economy is already on edge and things will deteriorate even more if a political way out is not found,” Rashad Abdo, a leading economist and head of local think tank Egyptian Economic Forum, told IRIN.

Both sides have what one analyst described as “maximalist” demands: the new interim government wants the Muslim Brotherhood to completely accept their roadmap for the future; the Brotherhood refuses to take part in any dialogue until Morsi is reinstated as president.

So what is the way out?

De-escalation: The first step, analysts agree, is to de-escalate the tension. A security solution to the problem (for example, clearing the Muslim Brotherhood sit-in by force) would lead to “catastrophe”, according to former diplomat Ibrahim Youssri, who served under Mubarak.

Human Rights Watch has called on the army to cease using live ammunition to control the crowds (though the Interior Minister denied having done this), and Amnesty International encouraged the authorities to issue “clear instructions to security forces to refrain from the use of disproportionate force”.

According to Oxford Analytica, a global analysis and advisory firm, there is a high probability of Islamist retaliation if the army continues its current course. This could involve supporting a jihadist anti-army rebellion in Sinai and/or acts of terrorism in other parts of Egypt, including Cairo, it said.

On the Brotherhood side, one form of de-escalation would be a condemnation of all violence, including militant activity in the Sinai.

Confidence-building measures: As it stands now, members of the Muslim Brotherhood see themselves in an “existential crisis”, according to Yasser El-Shimy, an analyst with the International Crisis Group (ICG). “They fear that if they went home, that would be it: there would be nothing to prevent the security forces from authorizing a major crackdown and completely excluding them – not just from politics, but also cracking down on the organization’s social and religious activities. So they need to have some kind of guarantees that they are not going to be persecuted.”

A few steps to help build trust, he and high-level officials from the UN and European Union (EU) have recommended, include: releasing Morsi, who has been detained by the military in an unknown location since his ouster, or at the very least transparently reviewing his case; releasing other jailed Muslim Brotherhood leaders rounded up since 3 July; and launching an impartial and transparent investigation into the killings of Morsi supporters.

In return, the Muslim Brotherhood should call off its protests, or at the very least call on its supporters not to extend rallies beyond their sit-in location at Raba’a al-Adaweya square in Cairo’s Nasr City neighbourhood. Such roaming protests have paralysed traffic, terrorized civilians in the area and at times provoked security forces.

Liberal youth behind the original revolution in 2011 have also called on the army to demonstrate clearly that it does not want to come back to power. (A military council ruled Egypt following Mubarak’s downfall until Morsi was elected)

“Neither the Brotherhood nor the military represent the ideals of the revolution of the Egyptian people,” said Eslam Ahmed, a liberal activist who helped form a new movement called Third Square, opposed to both Muslim Brotherhood and military rule.

Mediation: All parties agree that some form of mediation is necessary. According to Saad Eddin Ibrahim, a leading democracy advocate, even the Brotherhood has privately reached out to him to act as a mediator between the movement and the new government, though the Brotherhood denies this.

One main challenge is the lack of an acceptable arbiter. “On the domestic front, there is no party left to play the role: not the army, not the Azhar [highest Muslim authority in the country], not the church, nothing,” El-Shimy said. “They have all been incredibly politicized and have taken one side or the other.” Even Atef Al Hadidi, a researcher from al-Azhar, suggested international mediation would be preferable.

The Arab League has also been ruled out by many analysts, its members divided about developments in Egypt. Several players have pointed to the EU as a foreign force more favourably viewed by both sides than the US (EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is the only foreign diplomat to have met Morsi during his ongoing detention). The ICG’s El-Shimy suggests the UN could also play a role. But both sides must drop all conditions before sitting at the table, Al Hadidi said. 

Meanwhile, some worry that by “succumbing to the Brotherhood”, as the former diplomat Ibrahim put it, the government would be emboldening other movements into potential opposition, including harder-line Salafists.

Roadmap to elections: The Brotherhood has demanded that all recent measures taken by the army – the ouster of Morsi, the dissolution of parliament and the suspension of the constitution – be reversed. But it has suggested that after Morsi is re-instated, Egyptians can legally decide whether he stays in power through a popular referendum. El-Shimy calls this “wishful thinking”.

Islamist thinker Mohamed Selim Al Awa has proposed a slightly more conciliatory plan, which involves a reinstated Morsi delegating his powers to an independent prime minister who would pave the way for parliamentary elections within 60 days, followed by presidential elections. This proposal also includes amending articles in a constitution pushed through by an Islamist-dominated parliament, which – while approved in a national referendum last year – remains controversial.

But this plan is opposed by Egypt’s liberal and secular political camps as “one last attempt by the deposed president and his party to go around the will the people expressed on 30 June,” according to Ahmed Shaaban, a leftist activist, referring to the day millions of Egyptians took to the streets to demand Morsi’s ouster. “They just want to go back to power through a backdoor.”

ICG proposes something slightly different: a revival of the constitution as a temporary measure (in order to protect freedoms and rights in the interim) until a more permanent consensus-based constitution can be drafted; a formal resignation by Morsi, in order to end questions around the legitimacy of the new authority; handover of power to a consensus prime minister; the launch of a process to amend the constitution; and finally, elections.

But this approach, too, faces a challenge in the lack of leaders among Egypt’s politicians. In addition, according to some views, a consensus candidate would undo the expression of public anger against Morsi, as exhibited in the 30 June protests: “There cannot be a power-sharing plan because this plan will overlook the facts on the ground,” Ibrahim said.

A return to politics: Because of this leadership deficit, an institutional consensus-building mechanism will have to be adopted in order to ensure a swift return to politics. “The country cannot continue to be governed on the streets, by the streets,” El-Shimy said. Nor can a “winner-take-all” mentality continue to rule.

“The country cannot continue to be governed on the streets, by the streets.”

In a best-case scenario, Oxford Analytica says, talks would bring Islamists into the transition process as part of a national unity government.

An important part of the puzzle will be re-establishing the credibility of the democratic process in the eyes of the public, especially the Brotherhood. “Suppose we accept to be part of any election in the future in the light of the transition plan. Will the army accept the results of the election if we win it? I doubt this,” said Taher Abdel Mohsen, a Brotherhood leader and a member of the dissolved upper house of parliament, known as the Shura Council.

National reconciliation: Most of the steps above are pre-requisites for true national reconciliation, experts say. On 24 July, the interim presidency announced a transitional justice plan, with the aim of ushering in an era of truth, presidential adviser Mustafa Hegazi told a press conference. Using national reconciliation in South Africa as a model, the plan includes the formation of a truth and reconciliation commission that will investigate crimes committed during the past few weeks, as well as under the tenures of both Morsi and Mubarak. The commission would also create a legal framework for transitional justice, which would result in amnesty for some people and prosecution for others, Hegazi said.

Since the original 2011 uprising, calls for a broad-based, non-political transitional justice process have not been heeded. “Crimes continue to happen and corruption continues to thrive, simply because we have not launched this plan,” said Nasser Amin, a lawyer and rights activist who has been party to meetings at the presidency about the plan. “Egypt will not move a step forward without this transitional justice… People have to pay for their mistakes or there can never be reconciliation.”

But for former constitutional judge Tahani Al Gibaly, the players are not yet ready: “I do not think it is easy to reconcile while one party [the Muslim Brotherhood] refuses to admit its mistakes.”

In any case, the Muslim Brotherhood has so far boycotted those meetings: “The army must first show respect for the ballot boxes and then we can talk about reconciliation,” Abdel Mohsen said. Without their participation, any national reconciliation process is bound to fail, experts said.

Just days before the latest violence, interim vice-president Mohamed ElBaradei wrote on his Twitter feed: “Transitional justice and national reconciliation based on inclusiveness are only option. The sooner we realize this the more lives are saved.”

ae-ha/cb  source http://www.irinnews.org

 

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Norway condemns the use of violence in Egypt

Posted by African Press International on July 29, 2013

Norway condemns the use of violence in Egypt. The transitional government and the army carry a heavy responsibility to stop a downward spiral of violence,” commented Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide.

Norway is following the situation in Egypt closely and is very concerned about the latest developments. Since the army removed President Morsi from power, Norway has emphasised that the transitional government must ensure that the democratic process is put back on track as soon as possible.

“Political detainees must be released and all political groups must be given a real opportunity to participate in the democratisation of Egypt,” said Mr Eide.

“In these dramatic days for Egypt, we urge all sides to show restraint.”

“The developments over the next days will decide how Norway will view the removal of president Morsi. We are very concerned about the use of force against the protesters. The Army and the transitional government must respect the right of the Egyptian people to demonstrate in support of their views,” said Mr Eide.

 

Ends

 

 

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Syrians are accused of taking part in pro-Morsi demonstrations

Posted by African Press International on July 23, 2013

CAIRO,  – A thin wall was all that separated Syrian refugee Ahmed Al Hemsi from his 62-year-old father at Cairo International Airport when immigration officers told his father he would not be allowed into Egypt.

“He was crying when he talked to me on the phone,” Al Hemsi, 26, told IRIN. “This was the first time in my life I heard my father crying.”

Al Hemsi’s father, who had just arrived from Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, is one of thousands of Syrians affected by a new set of security measures enacted by Egyptian authorities following the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi and bloody clashes between Morsi’s supporters and opponents.

Government supporters accuse Syrian refugees of participating in the clashes and taking part in attacks against anti-Morsi demonstrators in several Egyptian cities.

The new security measures include the requirement that Syrian refugees and asylum seekers get entry visas to Egypt from an Egyptian embassy, as well as security approval.

But many Syrians say, given that Egypt severed its diplomatic relations with Syria, getting an entry visa to Egypt from Damascus is impossible, and that the process is difficult at embassies in other countries.

“Our understanding of the new measures is that we are no longer welcome in Egypt,” said Arkan Abulkheir, a Syrian community leader in Cairo. “The fact that some Syrians had committed violations by getting involved in Egypt’s politics does not mean that Egypt should punish all Syrians.”

There are between 250,000 and 300,000 Syrian refugees in Egypt now, according to the Egyptian government.

“He was crying when he talked to me on the phone. This was the first time in my life I heard my father crying.”

The conflict in Syria has created the world’s worst refugee crisis since the 1994 Rwandan genocide, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said this week, noting that more than 6,000 people were fleeing every day.

Nearly 1.8 million refugees from Syria are registered with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt.

Tighter checks in Egypt

The government’s new tougher line includes tighter security checks for Syrian refugees in Egypt, with the threat of deportation for Syrians who do not have residence permits.

Previously, Syrians were able to get a three-month visa when they entered Egypt for the first time. After that visa expired, the Syrians could then apply for a one-year residence, but this is no longer the case.

A security official told the newspaper Al Watan on 11 July that police have orders to arrest Syrians and check them.

Abulkheir was stopped by a policeman on the street a few days ago. The policeman asked about his passport and his residence permit.

“He told me that he would have sent me back to Syria if my residence permit was not valid,” Abulkheir said. “Thanks are to God, the permit was valid for six more months.”

Syrian refugees say they are afraid to go out lest they be arrested or deported.

Before the change of government and these new security measures, Syrian refugees already faced a variety of challenges, but the new measures are making life even harder.

When they came to Cairo two months ago, Al Hemsi, his mother and his younger brother had to leave their father behind in the Syrian city of Daraa because they did not have enough money to buy him a plane ticket.

He finally travelled to Cairo on 8 July after the family raised US$250 for the flight. Since he was refused to entry to Egypt, he has been living in a mosque in Beirut.

“We do not know how he eats or lives his life,” Al Hemsi said. “He does not have any money. He is also too frail to work.”

School’s out

Another change has come in the education sector. Syrian refugees were previously allowed to enrol their children in state-run schools and universities, and were given equal treatment with Egyptians when it came to fees. This is no longer the case.

Abu Mustafa, a Syrian refugee in his mid-forties, went to a school in 6 October, a neighbourhood southwest of Cairo, a few days ago to enrol his three children for the new academic year, which is expected to start in September. He was told by the headmaster that Syrians are no longer allowed at state-run schools, which have lower fees than private schools.

“He said I should enrol them in a private school,” Abu Mustafa said. “But this is very difficult for me to do.”

To enrol his children in a private school, Abu Mustafa would have to pay a minimum of 7,000 Egyptian pounds (US$958) for each of them. Unemployed and living on charity, this is too much money for him, and for the tens of thousands of other Syrian refugees in the country.

Political tension

The new measures against Syrians coincide with a fierce campaign against them by some of Egypt’s politicians and opinion-makers, who accuse them of harbouring support for the deposed president and of contributing to Egypt’s current turmoil.

An Egyptian politician recently called for the execution of Syrians and Palestinians if they are arrested while taking part in protests or fights on the streets.

UNHCR in Egypt has called for refugees to receive proper protection.

“We call on the government to ensure that any precautionary measures in the light of the current security situation do not infringe on humanitarian principles and Egypt’s responsibilities to provide asylum and protection to refugees,” Edward Leposky, an associate reporting officer at UNHCR Egypt, told IRIN.

He said the Syrian community had expressed anxiety over the current environment, with some Syrians subjected to verbal threats, heightened scrutiny and temporary detentions.

“All this has led to a notable increase in the number of Syrians approaching UNHCR for registration,” Leposky said.

As of 16 July, around 75,000 Syrian refugees were registered with UNHCR in Egypt.

ae/jj/rz source http://www.irinnews.org

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Al Jazeera is demanding the immediate release of staff members detained overnight in Cairo.

Posted by African Press International on July 4, 2013

Serious development as the Egyptian Armed Forces removes the democratically elected president Mr Morsi. Many people, especially those belonging the Muslim Brotherhood, are being rounded up.
Other cruel things happening is as follows:
Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr managing director is being held 

Al Jazeera Arabic broadcast equipment has been seized

•APTN ordered to withhold feed from Al Jazeera channels

Al Jazeera management is now demanding the immediate release of staff members detained overnight in Cairo.

Egyptian forces raided Al Jazeera premises overnight. 28 Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr staff members were detained, with most released later. The channel’s managing director Ayman Gaballah and Al Jazeera Arabic broadcast engineer Ahmad Hasan remain in custody however.

In the latest development, Associated Press Television News has been ordered to deny Al Jazeera channels access to their live services. Cairo News Company (CNC) has also been told to withhold access to broadcast equipment such as SNGs.

Mostefa Souag, acting director general of Al Jazeera Media Network, condemned the moves:

“Ayman and Ahmad must be released unharmed immediately. Media offices should not be subject to raids and intimidation. Journalists should not be detained for doing their jobs.

“There are big events taking place in Egypt and the world tunes in to Al Jazeera at times like these. The viewing public will not accept being cut-off from news and information. Regardless of political views, the Egyptian people expect media freedoms to be respected and upheld.

Al Jazeera management is grateful to all the media organisations giving themr support on these matters.

It is no doubt that Al Jazeera has always reported comprehensively in Egypt, even in difficult circumstances. They say they will continue to do that with their usual approach of encompassing all opinions with accuracy, balance and fairness.

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Army must ensure security and defend democracy in Egypt

Posted by African Press International on July 4, 2013

Norway regrets that the political process did not lead to a broadly supported solution for Egypt and that the army finally intervened, removed President Morsi from power and suspended the constitution. Norway has consistently encouraged President Morsi and the opposition to find solutions to the country’s major challenges through a broad and inclusive process. We must acknowledge the fact that they have not succeeded,” commented Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide. 

“Norway gives its full support to the democratisation process in Egypt. It is vital that a civilian government is rapidly formed and that the process towards democratic elections is started. All groups in Egyptian society must be included in the time ahead.

“The army is now responsible for ensuring stability, safeguarding the civilian population and preventing violence. The obligation to protect the population applies to all groups. I would particularly warn against imprisoning politicians. No one is served by political repression or violent confrontations,” said Mr Eide.

Like many other countries, Norway has given its full support to the development of an Egyptian democracy and has expressed its view that the outcome of democratic elections must be respected. Over the last year, the parties have not reached agreement on fundamental aspects of democracy. Norway has therefore cooperated with both the regime and the opposition in an attempt to find a political solution to the growing conflict.

“Norway upholds the right of the Egyptian people to demonstrate in support of their views. A broad popular and democratic movement is entitled to be heard. I would warn all concerned against an intensification of the already serious situation as this could further deepen divisions,” said Mr Eide.

 

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Egypt must find a political solution to the crisis

Posted by African Press International on July 2, 2013

“I am deeply concerned about the deadlocked political situation in Egypt. If the parties fail to find a political solution in the next few hours, the government could collapse, throwing the country into a serious crisis,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide.

Millions of people are taking part in the most massive protests Egypt has ever seen. Statements made by President Morsi, opposition leaders and the military indicate that a critical and decisive moment is imminent. Positions have hardened and many members of the Government have resigned. The way the crisis is resolved will have major consequences for Egypt’s future political development and for democratic development in the region as a whole.

Ever since President Morsi came to power, Norway has advocated that the authorities should initiate broad-based political processes and involve all segments of Egyptian society in the development of democracy. It is regrettable to have to acknowledge that this has not been achieved so far.

“Norway has supported, and will continue to support, the difficult transition to democratic rule in Egypt. We have maintained close contact with both the regime and the opposition, and we will continue our efforts to ensure that developments in the country are steered by the will of the people. I urge the parties to find a political solution based on constitutional measures and democratic values. No one benefits from the use of violence. It is essential that all parties refrain from violence, and the authorities have a particular responsibility to protect civilian demonstrators,” said Mr Eide.

 

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Hunger in Uganda: Getting more nutritious food on the table

Posted by African Press International on June 21, 2013

Malnutrition costs millions (file photo)

KAMPALA,  – Malnutrition costs Uganda an estimated US$899 million annually – as much as 5.6 percent of its GDP – according to findings of a new report.

The report, part of a wider paper dubbed The Cost of Hunger in Africa, launched on 18 June in the capital, Kampala, was conducted by the Ugandan government with the support of the African Union Commission, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, the UN Economic Commission for Africa and the UN World Food Programme (WFP). Similar reports are planned for Egypt, Ethiopia and Swaziland.

“Hunger and under-nutrition are both a cause and effect of poverty,” Sory Ouane, WFP’s country director, said at the report’s launch. “Cutting hunger and achieving food and nutrition security in Africa is not only one of the most effective means of reducing vulnerability and enhancing the resilience of national economies, it also produces high returns for social and economic development.”

Using data from 2009, the report estimated that child mortality associated with under-nutrition reduced Uganda’s labour force by 3.8 percent. This represents over 943 million working hours lost due to an absent workforce, costing the country nearly $317 million. In the educational sector, the study estimated that 7 percent of repeated school years in Uganda are associated with stunting, representing 134,000 repetitions and an estimated cost of $9.5 million to the government and families.

The study found that treating diarrhoea, anaemia, respiratory infections and other clinical conditions related to malnutrition cost Uganda $254 million, while losses in productivity reached $201 million in manual sectors like agriculture and $116 million in non-manual activities.

People affected by stunting – which results from poor nutrition in the first five years of life – are more likely to be sickly, to perform poorly at school or drop out, to be less productive at work, and to die early.

“When the child is undernourished, that child’s brain is less likely to develop at healthy rates, and that child is more likely to have cognitive delays,” the authors noted.

One out of every three children in Uganda are stunted, according to the report, while as many as 82 percent of all cases of child under-nutrition and related conditions go untreated. Some 15 percent of all child mortality cases in Uganda are associated with under-nutrition, and 54 percent of the adult population in Uganda suffered from stunting as children.

An estimated 110,220 cases of child mortality associated with child under-nutrition were reported in Uganda from 2004 to 2009.

Ugandan Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi called for urgent intervention. “The findings provide us with the evidence base for building a case for food security, communication, advocacy and policy discourse on nutrition,” he said at the report’s launch. “We can no longer afford to have high prevalence rates of under-nutrition… [The report] has given the justification for increasing investment in scaling-up nutrition interventions and ensuring the availability of food and good nutrition.”

Urgent action needed

Mbabazi said the findings would be a guide for Uganda’s future nutrition policies to “prevent unnecessary losses of human and economic potential”.

“The study calls for urgent moves from governments in Africa. It encourages countries to set aggressive targets in Africa for the reduction of stunting,” said Carlos Costa, one of the authors of the report. “To have a decisive impact, a comprehensive multi-sectoral policy must be put in place, with strong political commitment and allocation of adequate resources.”

John Kakitahi, a public health and nutritionist specialist at Uganda’s Makerere University, told IRIN that some practical measures to reduce stunting included scaling-up the provision of fortified foods to schoolchildren and introducing fortified products – such as micronutrient powders – to improve food quality at home.

Getting more nutritious food on the table (file photo)

“There is need for increased awareness campaigns on good food nutrition. The government needs to support sectors like agriculture for improving food production and promoting food diversification so that people eat a variety of food,” said Elizabeth Madraa, fortification advisor with the US government’s Strengthening Partnerships, Results in Innovations in Nutrition Globally (SPRING) project.

She also urged the government to boost funding and human resources to support the Uganda Nutrition Action Plan (UNAP), which aims to reduce child malnutrition and stunting and boost exclusive breastfeeding by 2016.

Food shortages bite

Yet parts of the country are currently grappling with food shortages that caused deaths and malnutrition.

Uganda’s first rainy season – traditionally between March and July – has been very heavy in parts of the country, causing crop-destroying floods, while other parts of the country saw little rain. A recently concluded disaster risk and food insecurity assessment undertaken by the government showed that crops, including staples like maize, beans and millet, had failed during the first rains.

In Karuma Village, in the northwestern district of Masindi, farmer Cordildo Maya told IRIN that he had lost his entire crop. “I planted them in early April, but the sun didn’t spare my crops this time,” he said.

“It’s a worrying situation, and we have notified [the] agricultural ministry to advise farmers accordingly. Farmers need to plant quick-maturing plants and make full potential of the second rains,” Musa Ecweru, State Minister of Relief and Disaster Preparedness, told IRIN.

Ecweru urged people to limit the amount of food they sold and to use it to cope with the shortages instead.

In the chronically food insecure northeast, food shortages are affecting school attendance and deaths from hunger have been reported. WFP is distributing relief food in the region.

“We expect to reach an estimated 155,000 people, targeting children, [the] elderly, disable[d] and chronically ill,” said country director Ouane in a recentcommuniqué. “However we have a funding gap of $2 million.”

“Karamoja has only one planting season, so when we miss it, it means hunger,” said Adome Lokwii Kotido, chairman of Karamoja’s Kaabong District.

“The children and parents in the region are starving due to lack of food. The parents are struggling to provide food, but can’t,” Peter Aleper, member of parliament for Karamoja’s Moroto Municipality, told IRIN.

so/ca/kr/rz source http://www.irinnews.org

 

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A catastrophe for families in Egypt

Posted by African Press International on June 5, 2013

Some studies have identified a link between colorectal cancer and obesity. Researchers are exploring a possible link between early onset colorectal cancer and pesticide use

CAIRO, 31 May 2013 (IRIN) – Colon cancer in Egypt is more deadly and destructive than elsewhere, yet less understood.

A new study adds to a small body of research, through which a picture is emerging: colorectal cancer, commonly known as colon cancer, strikes younger people in Egypt far more frequently than it does in Europe or the US, making it much more lethal and socially destructive.

Yet, while colorectal cancer in European and North American contexts is well-studied, researchers have uncovered far less about the causes of the abnormally high rates of early-onset colorectal cancer in Egypt.

Ahmed Morsi started suffering from rectal bleeding three years ago, at age 37. When he saw doctors, they told him it was related to piles, commonly known as haemorrhoids, but the bleeding did not stop. It took six months and visits to five different doctors before he was correctly diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

And it was another two months before he told his wife.

“I was afraid of the situation for her, and I wanted to do everything by myself,” he said.

Over the course of five months, Morsi underwent a colostomy, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

A father of two, Morsi is the sole breadwinner of the family, and had to quit his job as a server at a Cairo coffee shop for the duration of the treatment. At first, his brothers were able to support his family, but his wife eventually had to sell all their gold to make ends meet.

Morsi is one of 412 patients diagnosed by Egyptian colorectal cancer specialist Ahmed Gado between 2000 to 2012. Gado found that one quarter of his patients were less than 40 years old, a far higher percentage than in Europe or North America, where incidence of the disease is much higher, but only 2-6 percent of patients are that young. According to the American Cancer Society, 90 percent of new cases of colorectal cancer in the US and94 percent of deaths occur in individuals 50 and older.

Young patients have families to support, which compounds the effects the disease has on the general population.

“It’s a catastrophe for families,” Gado told IRIN.

What makes this trend more alarming, he said, is that the prognosis is worse for younger patients. In general, those who acquire the disease below the age of 30 are three times as likely to die within five years than those who acquire it past 50, according to European studies. The five-year survival rate drops from 75 to 25 percent for the younger patients.

Gado published the results of his research, conducted at his unit at Giza’s Bolak el-Dakror Hospital, a few kilometres from downtown Cairo, in the Alexandria Journal of Medicine in April. The study was peer-reviewed by the Faculty of Medicine at Alexandria University and confirms findings of early onset colorectal cancer in Egypt by other researchers.

study published in the International Journal of Cancer in 1997 found that 35 percent of more than 1,600 colorectal cancer patients in four Egyptian hospitals were under 40.

According to the Middle East Cancer Consortium, based on data collected between 1999 and 2001, colorectal cancer constituted 4.4 percent of cancer cases in Egypt, affecting six in every 100,000 Egyptians, compared to 32 in every 100,000 Americans.

Diagnosis

But in Egypt, colorectal cancer is often not diagnosed quickly, which Gado attributes to a combination of cultural issues and lack of awareness, even among practitioners.

He routinely sees patients who have had rectal bleeding for a year before seeing doctors, and there are rarely follow-ups on a patient’s condition. Colonoscopy is an invasive procedure, and few patients with a family history of cancer agree to undertake it as a preventive measure.

General practitioners will also often misdiagnose bleeding as piles, he said, and they will not always refer patients to specialists. Few specialists have adequate competency to perform colonoscopies, even in the Cairo region.

Knowledge gap

Egypt is thought to have among the highest rates of early onset colorectal cancer in the world, and only a few studies have attempted to better understand the disease here.

In general, comprehensive data on cancer in Egypt is limited, according to Randa Abou El Naga, a researcher on non-infectious diseases at the World Health Organization (WHO), which, itself, does not have research about colorectal cancer in Egypt.

The Egyptian government has a national cancer registry, but research is not representative of the entire country. It compiles data annually, but on a rotation basis between different governorates, Abou El Naga said. For example, the registry’s 2008 data covers only Aswan Governorate on the Sudanese border, and its latest report, published in 2010, covers only Damietta Governorate in the Delta region.

WHO is assessing the quality of Egypt’s national cancer registry, with the goal of providing recommendations to the Egyptian government on how it can be improved to provide a complete overview of cancer occurrence in the country.

Causes and correlations

In general, higher risks of colorectal cancer appear to be related to a number of dietary and lifestyle habits, including higher intakes of alcohol and red and processed meats; lower intakes of fibre, fruits and vegetables; micronutrient deficiencies, especially selenium, iron and vitamin D; lack of physical activity and increased obesity.

One theory is that these factors combine to create an excess of calories, resulting in obesity, insulin resistance, hyperglycaemia, inflammation and oxidative stress, which could cause cellular damage in the colon and lead to cancer over the long term.

Egyptians’ diet has been changing as junk food becomes increasingly accessible and most restaurants take Internet orders.

A busier lifestyle and lack of parks and sports infrastructure means that urban Egyptian waists are taking a hit. Statistics from 2010 aggregated by the National Nutrition Institute show that 20 percent of teenagers, 55 percent of adult males, and 75 percent of adult females in Egypt are either overweight or obese.

But the reasons behind early onset of colorectal cancer, specifically, remain unclear. Researchers are looking at the roles played by genetic predisposition or environmental exposure, such as the use of pesticides. Early life exposure could also be a factor.

For more, check out a few studies we came across in our research:
The recent study in Egypt by Gado and his colleagues (2013)

On early-onset colorectal cancer in general (1999-2001) and in Egypt specifically (1997)

On detection and treatment of colorectal cancer in younger people (2004)

On the possible link between early-onset colorectal cancer and dietary trends in Egypt (1998)

comparison of cancer rates in Egypt, Cyprus, Israel and Jordan vs. the US

On colorectal cancer in multi-ethnic populations (2008) and screening according to birthplace (2010)
On high rates of early-onset colorectal cancer in Sudan (2005)

On the difference in ages of black and white colorectal cancer patients in Johannesburg (2002)

Find more related journal articles here

af/ha/ca/am source http://www.irinnews.org

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