An EgyptAir flight from Washington bringing back home 340 Egyptian nationals landed in Marsa Alam on Monday, state run MENA news agency reported. According to the agency, Marsa Alam airport’s quarantine and preventive health team conducted medical checkups and swabs to ensure that the passengers are coronavirus free. The passengers were then transferred to designated hotels in the Red Sea resort city under full medical supervision, where they will stay in a 14-day quarantine. The government requires returnees to sign a written acknowledgement that they agree to be quarantined before boarding the flights. Egypt began repatriating its nationals in March after many countries, including Egypt itself, started to shut their airspace to commercial flights. The country is keeping its airspace open to inbound charter flights and special flights to transport outbound passengers, and to cargo and domestic flights. Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said last week that authorities are hoping to repatriate all nationals stuck abroad before the Islamic holiday of Eid Al-Fitr, which is set to begin on 23 May. Egypt has repatriated around 12,000 stranded Egyptians from different countries since late April, an aviation ministry source told Al-Ahram last week. Seventy flights arranged by EgyptAir and Air Cairo airlines brought Egyptian nationals back to their country amid the coronavirus pandemic, the source said, adding that flights will not stop “until the last Egyptian stranded abroad is repatriated.”
Egypt will begin operating "field tents" for suspected coronavirus patients at a Cairo fever hospital on Monday to prevent overcrowding inside the facility, the health ministry announced late on Saturday. According to a statement, Health Minister Hala Zayed toured Abbasiya s Fever Hospital tents, which are prepared to be used as waiting and screening areas for suspected coronavirus patients. She assured the availability of x-ray and testing equipment at tents to ensure swift medical services. She inspected the development of a designated building at Abbasiya Chest Hospital, which will serve as a quarantine centre for coronavirus patients with a capacity of 166 beds starting next week. Zayed also toured the hospital s laboratory after the ministry supplied a PCR device, with testing set to begin next week. The move comes as the country works to expand the capacity of its health system to cope with a spike in coronavirus cases, as authorities seek to ease lockdown measures by the end of Ramadan, which falls next week. Egypt reported 491 new coronavirus infections on Saturday, bringing the total number of detected cases up to 11,719. It also reported 20 new coronavirus deaths on Saturday, bringing the total number of fatalities up to 612 nationwide Egypt surpassed 11,000 coronavirus cases on Friday 15 May, almost three months after the first case was confirmed on 14 February. It took the respiratory virus seven weeks to reach 1,000 infections in Egypt, and five days to move from 10,000 to 11,000 cases. Last month, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El Sisi issued a decree extending a nationwide state of emergency for three months starting Tuesday. The ratification came after the parliament passed a number of amendments to a law regulating the state of emergency that give greater powers to the presidency and the military prosecution as authorities fight the coronavirus outbreak. The amendments allow authorities to put in place a series of measures to contain the spread of the virus, some of which have already been enforced, including suspending schools and banning public and private gatherings. The state will also be allowed to instruct private hospitals and their staff to help with public healthcare for a limited period in case of emergency, and to turn schools, youth centres and other state-owned facilities into field hospitals.
Egypt’s health ministry published Wednesday a 3-stage plan for coronavirus management that contains required procedures “in preparation for the gradual return of normal life in the country.” The plan aims at “balancing between returning back to normal life while maintaining precautionary measures” to reach communal recovery from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The first stage of the plan, according to the ministry, should be applied immediately and entails “strict measures” in order to avoid relapses. The stage ends when there is a decrease in the total number of new cases nationwide for two consecutive weeks. In spite of lockdown measures imposed in March to contain the spread of the virus, Egypt’s infection tally has continued to surge, surpassing Tuesday the 10,000 mark, three months after the detection of the first Covid-19 case in the country on 14 February. Though it took the country around seven weeks to reach the 1,000 infections milestone, it only took three days for Egypt to move from 9,000 to the 10,000 infections mark. According to the ministry s plan, the second stage is that of “medium measures” that should last for 28 days after the end of the first stage. The third stage includes lenient but continuous measures that should be ongoing until further instructions are issued, or until the World Health Organisation (WHO) declares that the global risk assessment has reduced to a low level. In the plan, the health ministry urges citizens that until further notice they should always wear face masks when they leave home. The plan indicates that five sectors must remain suspended during the three plases: recreational facilities (cinemas, theatres, coffee shops, etc), restaurants, schools and universities, gyms and sports facilities, in addition to any kind of social gatherings like weddings and funerals. The ministry reaffirmed social distancing rules and urged citizens and institutions to abide by them. Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly on Thursday called on the ministers of higher education, health and the presidential health advisor to finalise a version of the plan to be announced soon by the cabinet. During a meeting with a number of ministers to follow up on the latest efforts to tackle the coronavirus crisis, Madbouly stressed that the plan should include penalties for those who violate it, Al-Ahram reported.
Sudan has said it rejects any partial agreement over the beginning of the filling of the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in July, a letter by the country’s prime minister read, joining Egypt in repudiating efforts by Ethiopia to progress its mega dam. According to a statement on Tuesday, Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok sent a letter to his Ethiopian counterpart Abiy Ahmed disapproving of an Addis Ababa proposal on an agreement over the dam’s first filling. “Any signing of a partial agreement for the first filling could not be approved due to technical and legal aspects that should be included in the agreement,” Hamdok said. The agreement must incorporate a mechanism of coordination, an exchange of information and the safety of the dam and its environmental and social impacts, he said. The Sudanese prime minister stressed that the path to reach a comprehensive agreement is an immediate resumption of negotiations which he said saw significant progress in the last four months. Sudan believes that the current circumstances do not allow for talks through normal diplomatic channels, he said, in reference to the coronavirus pandemic, arguing that teleconferences are a means to complete negotiations and agree on outstanding issues. Lead Sudanese negotiator Saleh Hamad said that most of the issues being negotiated are inextricably linked, not only to the first filling, but to all phases of filling and operations on the long run and therefore cannot be divided. Hamad said Sudan has been pushing with efforts for a return of negotiations under Washington-sponsored talks, which have resolved 90 percent of disagreements. He said US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin expressed in March his full support for efforts by the Sudanese prime minister on the return of talks over the dam. Hamdok also called on the presidents of Egypt and Ethiopia to resume negotiations predicting a return to the negotiation table for a comprehensive agreement on the filling and operations of the dam before the next flood season. Tuesday’s statement comes a day after Ethiopia announced it is to start filling its mega-dam in July, despite opposition from Egypt and Sudan as they stand by a 2015 declaration that stipulates an agreement on the guidelines governing the filling and annual operation of the dam should be reached. Egypt has been abiding by the rules of international law since the onset of negotiations over the GERD despite Ethiopia s intransigence and sudden withdrawal from the last round of talks in Washington earlier this year to sign the final agreement over the rules of filling and operating the GERD. Washington, which has been brokering talks since last year, failed to secure signatures from the three countries at end February, stressing that the filling of the 6,000-megawatt dam "should not take place without an agreement." Only Egypt initialled the agreement, saying it was "fair and balanced" and "achieves the interest of the three countries." Ethiopia attempted to revive last month the faltered talks through letters sent by Ahmed to President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Hamdok on the Ethiopian proposal that would cover the first stage of the filling, letter to the UN Security Council from Cairo showed. Egypt have turned to the UN body to voice their concerns and rejection of the Ethiopian proposal. Cairo, in a 17-page letter, blamed Ethiopia for trying to establish a deal without taking the interests of downstream countries into consideration. Some 85 percent of the Nile waters that reach Egypt flow from the Ethiopian highlands, mainly from the Blue Nile. Ethiopia hopes the massive $4.8 billion megaproject on the Blue Nile, which has been under construction since 2011, will allow it to become Africa’s largest power exporter. Egypt recieves an annual release of 55.5 billion cubic metres from its High Aswan Dam, while it needs over 80 billion cubic metres. It bridges the gap by water recycling and reuse. Cairo fears the dam will diminish its water supply from the Nile, on which it relies for the vast majority of its fresh water. The populous country currently has a water share of around 570 cubic metres per person annually, well below the water scarcity level of 1,000 cubic metres per person per year. The figure is expected to drop further to 500 cubic metres by 2025.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi praised on Tuesday the role played by the country’s nursing staff in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak, as the virus continues to infect medical staff in the populous country. “Speaking for myself and the Egyptian people, I express appreciation and respect to the nursing stuff who have made sacrifices for a noble humanitarian mission, which they are carrying out honorably,” El-Sisi said in a Facebook post to mark International Nurses Day, which falls on 12 May. The president said that the efforts by nurses in Egypt in this “difficult period proves their competence and their devotion to the nation and its people.” The president’s statements came hours after Egypt’s Nursing Syndicate announced that a sixth nurse has died from coronavirus. Egypt fears the virus will strain its medical capabilities, as a rise in infections among medical staff has been reported over the past few weeks. The World Health Organisation said last April that infections among medical staff represent around 13 percent of the total infections in Egypt.
BLOM Bank Egypt said it is temporarily suspending operations at its New Cairo branch over a suspected coronavirus case among its staff, a statement by the bank said on Sunday. The bank said it has disinfected the branch over the weekend immediately after the suspected case was reported last Friday. It has also coordinated to conduct coronavirus tests for all employees at the branch, and is redirecting clients to the nearest branch in the area. The statement added the bank will continue to implement preventative measures and sterilise all of the bank’s departments and branches amid the pandemic crisis.
Around 300 Egyptians arrived in Egypt’s Red Sea resort city of Marsa Alam from Washington on Sunday, as part of the country s plan to bring back home nationals stranded abroad due to the coronavirus pandemic. The EgyptAir flight arrived in the Marsa Alam International Airport at around 8 am. Several sterilised tour buses transported the returnees from the airport to designated hotels in the coastal city where they will be put into 14-day quarantine. Egypt s flagship carrier EgyptAir will operate two planes on Sunday to repatriate 420 Egyptians stranded in the UK and Kuwait, according to local media reports. Marsa Alam will receive the first flight from London with 120 passengers onboard while Cairo international airport will receive the other with 300 passengers onboard from Kuwait. Egypt is working to repatriate thousands of Egyptians without valid residencies in Kuwait, which Immigration Minister Nabila Makram estimated at 5,300. Egypt has closed all its airports to international flights since mid-March as part of drastic measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The country has since operated exceptional flights to bring Egyptians stranded abroad back home and allow foreign tourists to return to their country. Egypt has since kept its airspace open to inbound charter and to cargo and domestic flights. Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has vowed to repatriate an estimated 3,500 Egyptians stranded overseas “at the earliest opportunity.” "I assure all Egyptians [stranded abroad] who are listening to me, even if our circumstances are difficult, we will not leave you," he said in televised remarks last month. Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said last week that authorities are hoping to repatriate all nationals stuck abroad before the religious Muslim holiday of Eid Al-Fitr, which is set to begin on 23 May.
Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry discussed latest regional developments, including the issue of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and updates on the coronavirus pandemic, with his Estonian counterpart Urmas Reinsalu on Wednesday, the Egyptian foreign ministry said. According to ministry statements, Shoukry discussed in the call received from Reinsalu efforts to curb the Covid-19 outbreak, especially international cooperation and coordination to exchange expertise. In the phone call, the Egyptian foreign minister discussed Egyptian views on the situation in the Middle East. For his part, Reinsalu expressed his aspiration for cooperation with Egypt, especially as Estonia is currently a member of the UN Security Council and will head the council in May, asserting that his country is ready to discuss issues of common interest between the two countries, the foreign ministry said in its statement. Shoukry and Reinaslu also discussed latest developments concerning the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). The Egyptian foreign minister mentioned a letter sent by Egypt to the president of the Security Council 1 May, about GERD after the failure of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to reach to an agreement on its filing and operation in the latest round of talks in the United States earlier this year. The letter details the stages the GERD issue has passed since its beginning and the actions and positions taken by Egypt in accordance with international law. In the letter, it is revealed that on 10 April 2020, the Ethiopian prime minister sent a letter to the president of Egypt and the prime minister of Sudan proposing they agree to an Ethiopian plan for the execution of the first stage of the filling of GERD. That plan was not shared with Egypt or Sudan. On 15 April 2020, Egypt’s president sent a message to the Ethiopian premier stating Egypt’s unwavering commitment to concluding beneficial agreement on GERD, reaffirming that the 2015 Declaration of Principles obliges the three countries to work towards a comprehensive agreement to regulate both the filing and operation of the dam. The letter called on the international community to ask Ethiopia to respect its international legal obligations to the 2015 Declaration of Principles and to reconsider its position and to accept the agreement on the filing and operation of the dam initiated by Egypt in February 2020. Tensions have been building between Egypt and Ethiopia over technical details regarding the operation and filling of the dam, which is under construction near Ethiopia s border with Sudan. Ethiopia hopes that the massive $4.8 billion project on the Blue Nile will allow it to become Africa’s largest power exporter. Egypt, which is downstream from the dam, fears that the project will diminish its share of Nile water, on which it is almost entirely reliant for fresh water. Last November, the US stepped in to host negotiations after Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia announced that talks on the operation and filling of the dam had reached a dead-end. The three sides were expected to sign a final deal in late February, when the last meeting was scheduled to be held in Washington, but Ethiopia skipped the meeting, citing domestic reasons.
Egypt s prosecutor-general said on Tuesday that young Egyptian filmmaker Shady Habash died in prison due to alcohol poisoning after he drank a sanitising solution he thought was water. Habash, 24, died on Friday in Cairo’s Tora prison complex, after over two years in pre-trial detention over charges including “spreading false news” and “joining a banned organisation.” He was arrested in March 2018 after directing a music video satirical of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi. Habash informed the prison physician “he accidentally drank alcohol in the afternoon on the day before his death, claiming… he thought it was water as he complained of stomach cramps,” the persecutor-general’s office said in a statement. “The physician gave him antiseptic and antispasmodic drugs and sent him back to his cell because his condition was stable,” the statement added. Prison doctors examined Habash several times throughout the day and gave him the necessary drugs. When his health deteriorated at night, a physician decided to transfer him to a hospital outside the prison, the statement said. As an ambulance was being prepared, Habash did not respond to the doctor’s attempts to revive him and died before he was sent to hospital. The prosecutors questioned three inmates. One of them said the deceased told him he had drunk “by mistake” alcohol used by a detainee as a protective measure against the coronavirus, and that his cell mates then found two 100-millilitre bottles of hand sanitiser of the same type used by the deceased in a trash bin. Two other cell-mates were questioned, with one giving a similar account and the other claiming Habash told him he mixed liquid sanitiser with a soft drink to get the same effect of hard drinks. The prosecutor’s statement said there were no apparent injuries to the body of the deceased. The prosecutor-general ordered an autopsy to identify the “direct cause” of death and whether there were any injuries, drugs or alcoholic substances in his body, and to determine if medical procedures taken with him in detention were correct. Habash’s family released a statement on social media on Tuesday rejecting any political use of the young man’s death and demanding an explanation for his death.
Egypt has conducted the highest number of clinical trials in the Middle East and Africa to find an effective drug for the treatment of COVID-19, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar said. Egypt conducted 22 trials out of a total of 30 carried out in Africa and 44 in Middle Eastern countries, the minister said in a statement on Tuesday. According to Abdel-Ghaffar, Egypt has conducted more trials than Iran, Israel, Turkey, Cyprus, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq. The Egyptian universities that took part in these experiments were Ain Shams University, Cairo University, Assiut University, Tanta University, Kafr El-Sheikh University, Zagazig University, Al-Azhar University, in addition to the National Research Center. Citing American database ClinicalTrials.gov, the minister said Egypt is now ranked among the world s top 10 countries in terms of the number of coronavirus clinical trials conducted. Egypt s Health Minister Hala Zayed said on Friday that five weeks ago Egypt requested the antiviral drug Remdesivir, which the US Food and Drug Administration had approved for emergency use. Also last week, the health ministry said it had started trials on plasma collected from donors who recovered from the coronavirus to test whether plasma can be an effective treatment for patients who are severely ill with the disease. Research findings will be shared with international bodies and published in international medical journals, said Khaled Megahed, the health ministry s spokesman. Egypt has joined 100 countries thus far in the World Health Organisation (WHO) solidarity clinical trial to find a treatment for COVID-19. The WHO, along with other partners, launched an international clinical trial in mid-March to examine a number of drugs to treat the disease. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic last December, the contagious disease has infected more than 3.6 million people globally and killed more than 252,000 people.
Kuwaiti authorities broke up riots by a group of Egyptian workers demanding repatriation back home at shelters designated for those who had violated the Gulf country s residency laws, arresting several people, the Kuwaiti interior ministry said on Monday. Kuwaiti policemen intervened after “riots and chaos” erupted, arresting some of the rioters who had been referred to authorities for legal action, the statement published on Twitter said. Representatives from the Egyptian Embassy in Kuwait visited the shelter and promised the workers that the embassy would arrange repatriation flights this week, it added. Kuwait said late in March it would allow expatriates violating its residency laws to leave the country without paying fines or flight tickets. Around 28,000 foreigners out of an estimated 160,000 who have no legal residencies have registered for repatriation, according to Kuwaiti local media. Those include around 6,500 Egyptians. The statement by the Gulf country came hours after Egypt’s Emigration Minister Nabila Makram said in TV comments that the priority for repatriation flights would be given to Egyptians in the Gulf, especially those in Kuwait, The plan to repatriate Egyptians stranded abroad include humanitarian emergencies, those violating residency laws and workers with terminated contracts, she said.
Egypt’s police killed 18 “terrorists" in a shootout in North Sinai’s Bir El-Abd city, the interior ministry announced Sunday morning, days after an Islamic State group claimed a terrorist attack in which 10 Egyptian military personnel were “killed or wounded” in the same area. According to the interior ministry statement, the “terrorists" were killed after raid on a hideout in the southern city of the North Sinai governorate. The "terrorist elements" used the house as a staging point from which to launch hostile operations, the statement added. The ministry said it seized 13 automatic weapons, three explosive devices and two suicide belts. The Egyptian Armed Forces said Thursday that 10 of its military personnel were “killed or wounded” when an improvised explosive device (IED) was detonated in North Sinai. An officer, a non-commissioned officer, and eight soldiers were killed or injured when their armoured vehicle was blown up in Bir El-Abd city. This was the first such attack since February when the armed forces thwarted a terrorist attack on a security checkpoint in North Sinai, killing 10 terrorists participating in the attack. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the North Sinai attack Friday, the group’s Amaq news agency said without providing evidence. Friday’s claim of responsibility came hours after the Egyptian armed forces said it had killed two dangerous “takfiri elements” during a raid. The military has been carrying out Operation Sinai, a counter-terrorism campaign, since February 2018. The campaign involves land, naval and air forces, as well as police and border guards.
On 28 April the Kemet Boutros-Ghali Foundation for Peace and Knowledge (KBG) posted its third virtual roundtable discussion on the repercussions of Covid-19. The webinar focused on the effects of the pandemic on refugees, asylum-seekers and displaced people, ie people on the move. The discussion, moderated by Ambassador Moshira Khattab,executive president of KBG, started off with a brief on Egypt’s immigration law. The opening speech was given by professor Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the board of trustees of KBG, who said 2018 saw the “highest number of displacement ever where 70.8 million refugees fled their homes.” The roundtable is the third of the foundation’s series of webinars on the repercussions of Covid-19, said Khattab, adding that the focus today is on how to protect and uphold the rights of one of the most vulnerable groups affected by Covid-19. “Covid-19 is a situation unlike anything we have faced before, and as UNICEF says it does not discriminate, nor should our response.” She stated that through collaborative efforts “we are able to truly leave no one behind.” Maha El-Rabbat, special envoy to the director-general of the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Covid-19 Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMRO) shared at the roundtable alarming facts and figures. Due to wars, violence and political instabilities, forced displacement has reached an unprecedented level, she said. According to UNHCR’s 2018estimates, more than 70.8 million people were forcibly displaced: about 41 million are internally displace; 25 million are refugees; and five million are asylum-seekers. The Arab region hosts about half of the refugees worldwide, including 5.5 million Palestinian refugees registered with UNRWA. The massive numbers of “people on the move” reflect on the infrastructure of hosting countries, that are lower- or middle-income countries, El-Rabbat said, noting that the Covid-19 crisis has added to the burdens of both the hosting countries and the refugees who come with their own baggage of diseases and ailments. The WHO is working on raising awareness and pushing for testing and isolation. However, social distancing can’t be applied in overcrowded camps. “Other innovative methods should be applied to protect public health, and surveillance should be the essential part to adopt such measures,” she said. From a political angle, Covid-19 might be the reason to stop the massive violence in the Arab region and, consequently, decrease the number of people on the move. Ahmed Abul-Gheit, secretary-general of the Arab League, said “I launched an appeal against all kinds of hostility and conflict in the region. That region is haunted by military conflicts, whether in Syria, Libya, or Yemen, and maybe in other areas so that was our immediate and first step is to call upon all parties to end to these conflicts.” Abul-Gheit said he addressed the foreign ministers of the five permanent member states of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on the matter, noting that Tunisia, the country representing the Arab world in the UNSC, is currently working closely with France on a draft resolution to end conflicts or at least stop fighting in the region. Sameh Shoukry, Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, said “Egypt has not taken any step to repatriate migrants. It continues to ensure their inclusion in the healthcare system.” He noted that Egypt is both a destination and transit country for five million refugees and asylum-seekers. Egypt is following key strategies in global emergency and calling for the inclusion of refugees and support of national efforts, he said. “Raising awareness and cultivating a culture of empathy and integration during these exceptional circumstances among host communities and vulnerable groups is necessary.” Maintaining Egypt’s commitment to meet the needs of refugees entails that Egypt insures and continues to receive the required international support from donors and international organisations in recognition of its efforts in this regard. “There should be international solidarity with refugees and other vulnerable groups by avoiding sudden and forced repatriation,” he insisted. Amr Moussa, former secretary-general of the Arab League said Covid-19 has shown the drawbacks of the global multilateral system, raising questions about poverty, the gimmicks of influential powers, and the environment. “Globalisation cannot go uncontrolled and unhindered with the very weak multilateral system. It is in our best interest as developing nations, and as people of the world that have seen a pandemic that has defeated systems, national systems in particular, to make the multilateral system stronger to meet future challenges,” Moussa said. He noted that pandemics are closely associated with climate change and the demographic explosion. “Our way of dealing with nature and other creatures should be reconsidered. As we see, the environment is faring much better now. There are no planes, no cars, no factories, etc... but this will come to an end once the coronavirus is over.” Moussa believes poverty is the primary reason people migrate, blaming it on industrial policies and rivalry between influential powers “as is the case in Syria, Libya, and Yemen.” He emphasised the role of the private sector and civil society as exemplified in the new active attitude undertaken by the Kemet institution.“Finally, I wish to underline my appreciation to both UNRWA and UNHCR for their efforts.” Philippe Lazzarini, commissioner-general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said “I have been in the humanitarian business for about 30 years and I have been impressed by the capacity and agility of the 70-year-old UNHCR for being innovative even in the exceptional circumstances of confinement that have been imposed by Covid-19. He explained that the coronavirus is yet another challenge to Palestinian refugees, the largest refugees in the world and the most vulnerable in the Middle East, because in most of the countries where the Palestinian refugees are hosted, poverty is twice higher than the average population. Yet the UNHCR has succeeded to maintain all the basic services, healthcare centres, have remained opened, and shifted to delivering medicines to homes. The same applies to social economic support, with home deliveries, and education. But this is taking place at a time when the agency is faced with unprecedented financial challenges, as the speakers noted the agency saw the worst financial year since 2012 in 2019. According to Abul-Gheit, “after the US administration denied the Palestinians their share, the Arab league stepped in calling on Arab countries to help. This resulted in contributions of $250-300 million annually to UNRWA. And for the first time since 2012, the agency ended up with less than $1 billion, while its budget is $1.3 billion. “What is important is that member states at the General Assembly support renewing the mandate. Political support translates into more resources for the agency to deliver its own mandate. “There is no better investment in UNRWA and Palestinian refugees than in the education and well-being of the Palestinian refugees,” he added. “There is no better investment than in UNRWA for the sake of peace and security in the Middle East and promoting the right of the Palestinian refugees.” On a parallel note, Raouf Mazou, assistant high commissioner for operations at the UNHCR, said "One of the first questions we asked ourselves was would governments include refugees and internally displaced persons or exclude them? The other question was what would happen to congested camps, and we have so many of those camps around the world and very often in the developing world which is receiving the largest number of refugees? “The positive thing is that in the MENA region, governments like Egypt and Kuwait have included refugees in their response to Covid-19. They did not discriminate. In the case of Lebanon, we partnered with the government to expand the capacity through the provision of above 285 additional hospital beds and 39 additional intensive care beds. This is what we did to ensure inclusion takes place. “As for camps, we are trying to decongest wherever possible and to improve sanitation, control the movement, and isolate vulnerable groups,” Mazou said. “The Mauritanian government requested the establishment of a quarantine and isolation unit and we answered its request, in addition to providing the country with additional shelters, kits, relief items to the refugees and we increased the people’s access to water, sanitation and hygienic materials. As for the marginalised in the informal sector living day to day, UNHCR has collaborated with the foreign ministry to list those threatened with eviction from their houses to enlist them in a cash-based assistance project. Mazou said Egyptian foreign minister Shoukry was “very clear that people should not be expelled in situations like this. “We are working with all governments to make sure that even if there are tighter controls, asylum-seekers – even if they have to be quarantined for some time – should be allowed to cross the borders.” China’s Ambassador to Egypt Liao Liqiang said “Covid -19 is a global enemy, as he explained the collaboration and efforts China has been sharing with the world since the outbreak. “We have the support of Egypt, Arab and African countries. And now we give back assistance in material and financial support to our friends in the region,” Liao said. “Until April China had held 87 video conferences with 115 countries including west Asian and Arab countries, including Egypt. China signed more than 114 agreements with other countries to facilitate their procurements of medical supplies from China. “With the Covid-19, the problem of refugees becomes more exacerbated,” he added. “Covid-19 has added to the urgency of this timeless problem,” said Ambassador Khattab, adding that “in the absence of a vaccine, the pandemic continues to be a harsh reminder of our collective vulnerabilities, which are amplified for the internally displaced and impoverished host communities. “While access to healthcare for people on the move will continue to be a priority for the global community, Covid-19 has added to the urgency of this timeless problem.”
The head of Egypt s Judges Club Mohamed Abdel Mohsen has commended President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi s meeting with Minister of Justice Omar Marwan to review upgrades of the judicial system, terming the step "very important." Spokesman of the Judges Club Mohamed Reda El-Sayyed said in a statement Tuesday that Abdel Mohsen asserted that the Egyptian judicial system is outdated but is very well established, noting that Egyptian judges face many obstacles due to the large number of cases and the lack of a proper atmosphere for introducing a mechanised system to use modern ways in courtrooms. Earlier Tuesday, during the meeting, attended also by Minister of Finance Mohamed Maait and head of the Intelligence Service Abbas Kamel, El-Sisi ordered the facilitation of further procedures for citizens through accelerating the pace of digitisation, amending legislation regulating legal procedures, and increasing the number of notary offices nationwide. According to a separate statement by presidential spokesman Bassam Rady, the presidential meeting also tackled means of developing judicial and notary work, as well as raising the efficiency of courtrooms across the nation. Also reviewed were obstacles faced by judges and efforts exerted to automate procedures in courts in coordination with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. Abdel Mohsen urged using new methods in handling cases with the aim of maintaining the distinguished position of the Egyptian judiciary and speeding up the justice system. The statement said that a special committee of the Judges Club has been working over the past two years to outline the problems and weakness points in the system, with the objective of drafting a strategy for developing the judicial system in line with the state s strategy for sustainable development by 2030. It said the Judges Club has presented this strategy to the Supreme Judicial Council and the minister of justice, to become a starting point for an overall upgrade of the judicial system. The statement asserted that the Judges Club is confident that the justice system in Egypt will witness tangible progress under Egypt s political leadership.
Egypt detected 260 new novel coronavirus cases on Tuesday, the highest infections toll reported since the outbreak, surpassing the 5,000 mark to report a total of 5042 cases nationwide, a statement by the health ministry said on Tuesday. The ministry also reported 22 new deaths, the highest single day reported deaths, bringing the total deaths from the virus to 359. The statement said 68 cases have been discharged, bringing the total number of recoveries to 1304 cases to date. The ministry said 17 of reported death cases on Monday and Tuesday have passed away before arriving at hospitals. 30 percent of total deaths due to the pandemic have passed away before admission at hospitals, while 20 percent have passed away after 48 hours of admission due to a deterioration in their medical states, according to the statement. Egypt first hit its 1,000 benchmark on 4 April, with infections tally continuing to rise despite imposed restrictions since March to stem the spread of the pandemic in the populous country. Several healthcare facilities in Egypt have detected cases among their doctors and nurses in the past few days, triggering fears that the outbreak would hit the country’s overwhelmed healthcare sector. Last week, Egypt shortened the nighttime curfew by one hour for Ramadan, amending curfew hours to begin at 9 pm instead of the previous 8 pm. Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly had warned last week that the number of infections is expected to rise, yet assured the public that the government is still able to contain the virus. If the rate of infections surges significantly and gets “out of control,” however, the government will take immediate measures that will be stricter than those currently in place, he said. Egypt is seeing an unprecedented Ramadan this year as restrictions to contain the pandemic are expected to take a toll on the cherished rituals of Islam’s holiest month. Egypt has banned all public religious gatherings during Ramadan including public iftars – fast-breaking meals – and the communal Taraweeh prayers. The ban will also include the itikaf ritual in which believers seclude themselves in mosques for an extended period. However, Egypt has indicated that it will take slow steps to return to normal life after the Eid Al-Fitr religious holiday, which marks the end of the holy month. Financial losses in some of Egypt’s main vital sectors, including tourism, have pushed the country to resort to the International Monitory Fund (IMF) for a new one-year financial assistance deal along with technical support as a proactive step to counter the negative economic repercussions of the coronavirus outbreak.
Egypt says it has revoked the license of a leading hotel in South Sinai s Sharm El-Sheikh after it laid off workers amid the coronavirus pandemic, a statement by the tourism and antiquities ministry read. According to a statement on Sunday, Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled El-Anany revoked the hotel s license over its failure to adhere to directives issued by the ministry to protect trained labour from layoffs during the coronavirus crisis. The move comes a few weeks after the minister revoked the licence of a hotel in the Red Sea governorate after it failed to pay the wages of its employees. El-Anany also ordered the closure of two restaurants in Greater Cairo for not adhering to anti-coronavirus health regulations. Egypt is imposing a number of conditions in its hotels and restaurants, including operating with a maximum of 50 percent of their workforces as well as conducting medical check-ups for staff and measuring body temperatures daily. Last week, the government gave a green light to restaurants to run delivery and takeout services throughout the week after it shortened the night-time curfew during Ramadan. The Egyptian tourism sector, one of the country’s main sources of foreign currency, continues to suffer huge blows amid the pandemic after it had seen significant recovery in the past few years. The tourism sector s losses will reach $1 billion per month after an enforced air traffic suspension last March, Al-Anany said in previous statements. Egypt s Minister of Planning Hala El-Said said that tourism revenues in the current fiscal year (2019/2020) are expected to reach about $11 billion instead of the $16 billion expected before the outbreak of the coronavirus.
The National Endowment Investment Group — the investment body of the Ministry of Religious Endowments in Egypt — will manufacture disinfectant booths to be installed at the entrance of mosques to curb the spread of coronavirus, Minister of Endowments Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa said in a statement Saturday. Gomaa stated that the ministry has started to equip mosques as part of a large scale plan for sanitising and continuously sterilising mosques. Mosques in Egypt have been closed to customary daily prayers and Friday congregations since 21 March amid measures to combat the spread of coronavirus. In earlier statements, Gomaa said that mosques will remain shut “until the cause of the closure” disappears. The National Endowment Investment Group earlier announced it had set up a production line for protective full-face masks aimed at contributing to “boosting the protection of individuals and organisations against the coronavirus.” The multiple-use polycarbonate masks are designed to avoid external hand-to-face contact. The ministry offers them for sale at EGP 50 ($3.2). The government shortened last Thursday coronavirus curfew hours to start from 9pm instead of 8pm on Friday, the first day of the holy month of Ramadan. Tarawih prayers, which are special evening prayers performed during Ramadan, are suspended this year. The government said it will gradually ease restrictions after the Eid Al-Fitr religious holiday, which marks the end of Ramadan. The total number of coronavirus cases in Egypt has reached 4,319, with a death toll of 307.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has approved a customs agreement between the governments of Egypt and Saudi Arabia aimed at promoting trade between the two countries. El-Sisi approved the deal, signed in Cairo in March 2015, after it was endorsed by the parliament. The presidential decree was published in the official gazette on Thursday. The agreement is designed to streamline trade between Egypt and Saudi Arabia and boost customs controls to combat illegal trade. It also aims at facilitating goods transfer through the customs transit system in both countries. The agreement is also intended to strengthen administrative cooperation and training in the field of customs through the exchange of information and technical support between the two countries.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met on Tuesday with representatives of the Syrian Opposition High Negotiations Committee “HNC” in Cairo, the Egyptian foreign ministry said in a statement. According to the statement, both sides discussed ways to boost the political reconciliation process in the war-torn Country. Egypt is keen to support efforts for a political reconciliation in Syria in accordance to the UN security council resolution No.2254 that aims at the restoration of security and stability in the war-torn country and that achieves the aspirations of Syrian people. From their side, the HNC delegation expressed their appreciation of the "Egyptian balanced role to reach out for all Syrian parties and political powers in order to end the Syrian crisis as soon as possible."
Egypt’s parliament – the House of Representatives – approved on Tuesday amending two laws aiming to contain the negative economic impact of the coronavirus. The house approved amending two articles of the real estate and property tax law (196/2008) to relieve businesses of some tax burdens imposed on their affiliated lands. Maait told MPs that the legislative amendments aim to give exemptions to industries and businesses negatively affected by the precautionary measures taken to fight the coronavirus. "These amendments were approved by the cabinet and aim to relieve industries and businesses of some of the tax burdens to help them weather the economic storm of the coronavirus," said Maait. The amendment states that lands owned by industries and businesses are to be exempted from the real estate tax provided that these lands are used in industrial and production activities. The executive regulations will give the finance minister the power to estimate the value of the tax exemptions and determine how long they will be in place. "And upon a report to be submitted by the finance minister, the cabinet will decide whether industries using their affiliated lands in industrial, strategic and service activities are eligible for real estate tax exemptions," said the government report on the amended law. Parliament also approved amending the current state 2019/20 budget to earmark an EGP 10 billion allocation to help fight the coronavirus and stimulate the economy at the same time. Maait explained that due to the critical conditions imposed by the spread of the coronavirus, the government was forced to ask parliament to amend the 2019/20 budget to allocate EGP 10 billion to meet this objective. "This additional allocation aims to help the day and seasonal labourers negatively affected by the precautionary measures taken to contain the coronavirus, not to mention that it also aims to push the wheels of production in many sectors," said Maait, also explaining that "the EGP 10 billion is part of an emergency plan estimated at EGP 100 billion which was approved by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi on 14 March to mitigate the economic cost of the coronavirus on Egypt." Meanwhile, parliament also approved a new seven-article government-drafted law on "financial measures necessary to contain the negative impact of the coronavirus on productive, economic and service sectors." "The law gives the cabinet the power to intervene to suspend the payment of certain taxes and other financial obligations such as social insurance or allow them to be paid in long-term instalments," said Maait. The law states that the postponement will be for a renewable three-month period, and stipulates that businesses are not to fire workers or even cut their salaries to be eligible for the postponement. Parliament also approved amendments to four articles of the income tax law (law 91/2005). Minister of Finance Mohamed Maait told MPs that the amendments aim to achieve social justice, particularly for low-income citizens and state employees. "The amendments help these brackets relieve some of the income tax burdens, and I can say that these amendments will help a low-income state employee raise his salary by EGP 2,000 a month," Maait said. Parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal said that although the articles of these laws have been approved by MPs, the final vote on them will be postponed to another date.
Following a 40-day suspension, Egypt’s parliament – the House of Representatives – will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss a number of legislative amendments necessary to contain the negative impact of the outbreak of the coronavirus. The amendment of the law regulating the state of emergency will feature prominently on the agenda of the discussion. According to a parliamentary report, four articles of the emergency law (162/1958) will be amended to give the president new powers necessary to handle critical health situations such as the outbreak of the coronavirus. "The powers, which were not part of the law when it was issued for the first time in 1958, include giving the president the right to suspend the school and university year and postpone the payment of taxes and electricity and water bills, etc," said the report. The amendments were approved by the legislative and constitutional affairs committee in an urgent meeting on Saturday. Parliament is also expected to renew the extension of the state of emergency for another three months, beginning on 27 April. In economic terms, parliament will discuss and vote on eight laws aiming to contain the negative financial impact of the coronavirus. The list will include a seven-article law on the financial measures necessary to contain the negative impact of the virus on the state s economic, production and service sectors. The law gives the cabinet the right to intervene to postpone the payment of certain taxes and social insurance to help businesses provided that they do not fire workers or cut their salaries. The house will also amend four articles of the income tax law 991/2005) to give new exemptions to low and limited-income brackets. The real estate and property tax law (196/2008) will be also amended to relieve businesses of some tax burdens imposed on their affiliated lands. The amendment of four articles of the current state budget 2019/20 will also be discussed to procure an allocation of EGP 10 billion necessary to mitigate the financial cost of the coronavirus and stimulate the national economy at the same time. The House will also take a vote on legislative amendments aiming to increase pensions by 80 percent, and give bonuses to state employees that will increase their salaries by 12 percent. The legislative agenda this week also includes discussing a new 113-article law drafted to regulate small, micro and medium-scale productive enterprises in order to boost their contribution to the national economy. The House will also discuss a 19-article law on regulating the performance of psychiatrists and the professionals who care for psychologically troubled patients. The House is also expected to take a final vote on two laws that were discussed in January and February. The first is a 22-artice law on Central Depository and Registration (93/2000), and the second is a new four-article law regulating the performance of deputy provincial governors. Parliament took this week a number of strict anti-coronavirus measures. MPs and parliamentary reporters will be allowed to enter the House s building only after they test negative for the coronavirus and pass through glass self-sterilisation chambers. Guests and visitors will not be allowed to enter parliament. Parliament s secretary-general Mahmoud Fawzi indicated in a statement on Sunday that parliament s decision to reconvene this week sends a message that its meetings will continue while at the same time taking the necessary anti-coronavirus precautionary measures. He revealed that the Ministry of Military Production has provided parliament with all the necessary sterilisation equipment and material necessary to prevent the infiltration of the virus. "Parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal has expressed deep thanks to Minister of Military Production Mohamed Al-Assar and to his ministry for producing high-quality sterilisation equipment and material in record time," Fawzi said.
Egypt s Prime Minister just announced precautionary measures during Eid al-Fitr holiday. I remembered the nineties of the last century, when the world began to digitize old systems with the start of the emergence of computers, and the peak of digitization was the emergence of the Internet and smart phones. Digitisation is the conversion of analog systems into digital content, i.e. the use of computers and smart phone