21 May 2013 Poverty and food insecurity in Egypt have risen significantly over the last three years, according to a joint reports released today by the United Nations food agency and partners.
An estimated 13.7 million Egyptians or 17 per cent of the population suffered from food insecurity in 2011, compared to 14 per cent in 2009, according to the report by UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the Egyptian Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).
“This increase in food insecurity, malnutrition and poverty rates has not happened overnight, during this year or even during the past year,” said WFP Egypt Representative and Country Director GianPietro Bordignon.
“People’s inability to have adequate and nutritious food is largely attributed to rising poverty rates and a succession of crises from 2005 – including the avian influenza epidemic in 2006, the food, fuel and financial crises of 2007–09 and a challenging macroeconomic context in recent years.”
The report also shows that twice as many people moved into poverty as moved out, with less money to spend on food, according to The Status of Poverty and Food Security in Egypt: Analysis and Policy Recommendations based on analysis of the CAPMAS 2011 Household Income and Expenditure and Consumption Survey (HIECS).
Findings show that the poorest families spend more than half of their average households on food and often buy less expensive, less nutritious food.
Malnutrition is up, with 31 per cent of children under five years of age stunted, up from 23 per cent in 2005. The UN World Health Organization (WHO) considers the “high” range of 30-39.
“Stunting, reflecting chronic malnutrition is irreversible and stops children reaching their full physical and mental potential,” WFP said in a news release. “In nine governorates across all regions in 2011, just over half of children under five were estimated to suffer from anaemia, classified as a ‘severe public health problem’ by the WHO.”
Food subsidies in the form of a ration card system in Egypt “are not designed to resolve all poverty-related challenges,” according to a joint policy paper released today by WPF and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
Nearly 70 per cent of the population receives ration cards but 19 per cent of the most vulnerable population are excluded, according to ‘Tackling Egypt’s Rising Food Insecurity in Times of Transition.’
Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44961&Cr=egypt&Cr1=
8 May 2013 Expressing concern about key legislative measures being considered by Egyptian authorities, the United Nations human rights chief today urged the Government to take steps to ensure it does not drift further away from the ideals that drove the 2011 revolution in the country.
In particular, the High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay pointed to a draft law that would constrain the activities of civil society organizations, as well as efforts to limit the authority of the judiciary, as measures that should be carefully examined and brought into line with international standards before they are adopted.
“I am very concerned that the new law, if adopted in its current form, may leave them in a worse situation than they were prior to the fall of the Mubarak Government in 2011. And – after all the country has been through in the past two years – that would be a truly tragic development,” Ms. Pillay said.
“This is a critical moment, with mounting concerns about a range of issues. These include the new Constitution and the manner in which it was adopted, the apparent efforts to limit the authority of the judiciary, and this current draft law which risks placing civil society under the thumb of security ministries which have a history of abusing human rights and an interest in minimizing scrutiny.”
Protests that erupted on 25 January 2011 eventually toppled the then President Hosni Mubarak and led to a transition period in the country, which was part of a larger group of movements in the region that became known as the Arab Spring.
In June 2012, Mohammed Morsi was elected President in the first presidential elections since the revolution began. However, protests were reignited when Mr. Morsi issued a Constitutional Declaration in November temporarily suspending the powers of Egyptian courts, and again when the country voted on a draft Constitution in December 2012.
Ms. Pillay said her office (OHCHR) had submitted detailed comments and proposals regarding the draft law on civil society.
“The proposed law has gone through various drafts. There remains some confusion – and much concern that the latest draft, like previous ones, largely ignores inputs from local and international human rights organizations, and, if adopted, will impose a series of draconian restrictions on civil society organizations, especially those focused on human rights,” she said.
“It seems that there is a real risk that the current draft will not only make it difficult for civil society to operate freely and effectively, but may also conflict with Egypt’s obligations under international law to uphold the right to freedom of association.”
Ms. Pillay underlined that the rights to freedoms of association and assembly, which are currently under threat, are the very rights that prompted Egyptian women and men to come together during the Egyptian revolution.
“Governments that seek to constrain these types of activities, for example by controlling access to funds, giving sweeping oversight powers to security agencies, and placing undue constraints on international human rights organizations – all elements contained in the various drafts of this law – risk slipping quickly into authoritarianism, even if that is not their initial intention,” the High Commissioner warned.
Ms. Pillay also noted that the new Constitution risks giving the Executive excessive power over the judiciary by allowing the President to directly appoint judges to the Supreme Court. “This concentration of power risks undermining the independence of the judiciary.”
She added that recent actions by authorities targeting protesters, journalists and other activists need to be investigated and reiterated her office’s readiness to work with the Government on these issues.
Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44858&Cr=egypt&Cr1=
May 2, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – A senior Egyptian military official who visited Sudan last week has warned Khartoum that his government will not make any concessions on the disputed border region, according to a newspaper report.
Sudan army chief of staff Colonel General Esmat Abdel-Rahman (L) reviewing guards of honor with Egyptian counterpart Lieutenant General Sedki Sobhi in Khartoum April 28, 2013 (SUNA)
The Cairo-based Al-Watan newspaper quoted a military source who accompanied Egypt’s military Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Sedki Sobhi as saying that the latter told his Sudanese counterparts that Egyptian lands are “red line”.
Lt Gen Sobhi emphasized that the Egyptian army will never agree to relinquish the country’s sovereignty over Halayeb and Shalateen areas claimed by Sudan.
“This is a done deal,” Lt Gen Sobhi was cited as telling Khartoum. He urged the Sudanese government not to bring up the issue again for the sake of preserving historic ties between the neighboring countries.
Last month a controversy erupted in Egypt following assertions made by Sudanese presidential assistant Musa Mohamed Ahmed that president Muhammad Morsi promised him during his recent visit to Khartoum to restore the situation in Halayeb to its pre-1995 status.
The Egyptian army seized control of Halayeb region, an area of land measuring 20,580 square km in the border areas of the Red Sea coast, after relations between the two neighbors plummeted due to the 1995’s failed attempt by Islamists allegedly backed by Sudan to assassinate the then Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa.
The genesis of the disputes over Halayeb dates back to as early as 1958 after Sudan gained independence from being ruled jointly by Britain and Egypt. The wrangle is a result of a discrepancy in the demarcation of political boundaries set by the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium and the ones set earlier by the British in 1902.
Cairo has routinely dismissed Khartoum’s demands that the issue be resolved through international arbitration.
During Morsi’s visit to Khartoum last month, Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir downplayed the dispute saying that the borders were demarcated b the colonial powers.
Article source: http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article46446