$142bn shot uplifts El-Sissi

Updated 24 March 2015
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$142bn shot uplifts El-Sissi

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sissi on Sunday boisterously marked the final day of a major economic conference that has injected billions of dollars' worth of aid and investment in his country, while still acknowledging that Egypt's road to recovery will be long and costly.
Egyptian Investment Minister Ashraf Salman said the three-day event was instrumental in mobilizing funds worth $142 billion required for the country’s fast economic recovery.
“The final investment and financial agreements reached during the conference have amounted to $33 billion while MoUs have amounted to $92 billion,” he said. Total aid and grants reached $17 billion including $12.5 billion from four GCC states and $5 billion from European countries.
Crown Prince Muqrin, deputy premier, who led the Kingdom’s delegation to the conference, held talks with El-Sissi before returning to Riyadh.
He conveyed the greetings of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman to El-Sissi and congratulated him on the conference’s success. He also wished greater progress and prosperity to Egypt and its people.
Prince Muqrin and El-Sissi discussed major regional and international developments and prospects of expanding cooperation between the two countries. El-Sissi commended King Salman’s stances in support of Egypt.
A jubilant El-Sissi invited young Egyptian organizers to join him at the podium before he addressed a packed auditorium at the Sinai resort. Several seized the opportunity to take selfies with the Egyptian leader and joined him in what has become his customary slogan of “Long live Egypt!”
But the president swiftly stopped a chant of ‘long live El-Sissi.’
“Long live Egypt and no one else,” said El-Sissi, who in the 35-minute address let out several hearty laughs and joked about how he drove hard bargains with top multinational executives to reduce prices, deliver ahead of schedule and allow longer grace periods for loan repayments.
Earlier, addressing the delegates seated in the massive conference hall, El-Sissi said: "You have no idea how much joy you have given the people of Egypt."
El-Sissi has staked his legitimacy on fixing the economy and restoring security, and the three-day conference has been seeking a sign of international confidence in the country's political stability.
"Some people thought my country has died, but Egypt is a country that God created so it can forever live," El-Sissi said. "Egypt was there 7,000 years ago and taught the entire world."
"This nation is awakening now," he declared.
The president said he would not wait around if Egyptians demanded new change in leadership in the country. “Egyptians are able to make changes … If the Egyptian people wanted to change (their leader) again they will but I will not wait for that moment,” he told the delegates.
El-Sissi said Egypt needed as much as $300 billion in investments to rebuild and give the country's 90 million people a genuine hope to live well.
"Loving Egypt cannot just be words," he warned. "We are behind, and those who are late must either speed walk or run," he said. "Even running will not be enough in our case."
The three-day gathering is meant to show the world Egypt is open for business again, and to draw investors scared off by four years of instability and turmoil that followed the 2011 Arab Spring uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak.
Investors committed $10.7 billion to projects on Saturday, a day after Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries announced a $12.5 billion aid package, continuing the largesse they have shown Egypt since ouster of Muhammad Mursi.
The agreements include a $6.5 billion deal with Egypt's Orascom group and the Abu Dhabi-owned International Petroleum Investment Co. to build a coal-fired power plant over four years, organizers said in a statement. The deals were signed a day earlier.
Of Saturday's agreements, Cairo Financial Holding, formerly led by Investment Minister Ashraf Salman, had the second-largest investment — $1 billion into a tourism fund.
Preliminary engineering and finance agreements amounting to $5.8 billion were also signed, along with a further $5.4 billion in loans and grants from international partners and organizations.


Iraq: Yazidis to accept children of Daesh rape into community

Updated 16 min 23 sec ago
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Iraq: Yazidis to accept children of Daesh rape into community

  • Thousands of women and girls were forced into sexual slavery when the extremists attacked Yazidi communities in northwestern Iraq
  • The Yazidi Supreme Spiritual Council issued a decree welcoming the survivors of slavery, and their children, into the Yazidi community

IRBIL, Iraq: The children of Yazidi women raped by Daesh men will be welcomed into the minority faith, a community leader said Thursday, allowing women taken as slaves by the militant group to return to Iraq from Syria.
Eido Baba Sheikh, son of the Yazidi spiritual leader Baba Sheikh, said the children of the formerly enslaved women will be treated as members of the faith, resolving one of the most difficult questions facing the community since the Daesh group’s 2014 campaign to try to exterminate the minority. Thousands of women and girls were forced into sexual slavery when the extremists attacked Yazidi communities in northwestern Iraq.
But the community shunned the women returning from captivity with children, a reflection of the deeply held Yazidi traditions to view outsiders with suspicion as a response to centuries of persecution.
US-backed Kurdish forces defeated the last fragments of the Daesh group’s self-styled “caliphate” in Syria in March, raising the possibility that thousands of missing Yazidi women and children might be found and reunited with their families.
Still, some 3,000 Yazidis are still missing. Many of the children enslaved by militants in 2014 were separated from their parents and given to Daesh families for rearing. Boys were pressed into the militants’ cub scouts, given military training, and indoctrinated in extremist ideology.
Officials at the Beit Yazidi foundation in Kurdish-administered northeast Syria said Yazidi women with children who could have returned to Iraq were choosing to stay in Syria, instead, in order not to be separated from their children.
Other women gave their young ones up for adoption to find acceptance among their community.
The Yazidi Supreme Spiritual Council issued a decree welcoming the survivors of slavery, and their children, into the Yazidi community, on Wednesday.
Murad Ismael, a founder of the global Yazidi charity Yazda, said it will nevertheless take time for the community in Iraq to accept the mothers and their children, because of the stigma of rape.
“It will take a couple of years for the community to digest this fully,” he said.
He said many women and children will have to seek resettlement in other countries, some to escape the stigma of their situation, and to find psychosocial services to heal after the trauma of slavery.
The community sent two representatives to search for Yazidi women and children in the camps in northeast Syria, where tens of thousands of civilians who survived the Daesh caliphate are waiting to be returned to their places of origin, said Eido Baba Sheikh.
He said it is believed that there could be Yazidi children among foreign or Daesh families in the camps, a result of the sale of Yazidis under the caliphate. Complicating the search will be that many of the children may have never learned to identify as Yazidis, or to speak Kurmanji, the language of the community. Women and older children may have started to identify with their captors, as well, confounding search efforts.
And though the community will recognize the children of Yazidi survivors as Yazidis, they will still face legal difficulties in Iraq, said Eido Baba Sheikh. Under the country’s family laws, a child is registered under the nationality and religion of their father, and it is unclear whether Iraq will allow Yazidi survivors to register their children as Iraqi Yazidis when there are questions about the children’s patrimony.
Also on Thursday, Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish regional government, asked for continued US support to allow Iraqis displaced by the war with IS to return to their homes, according to a State Department statement on a call between Barzani and Vice President Mike Pence.
Iraq’s Kurdish region hosts more than 1 million displaced people, including many of the 200,000 Yazidis forced to flee their homes when the Daesh militants attacked their communities in 2014.