Egypt’s police step in to combat potato shortage

In this Oct. 18, 2016 file photo, produce is sold in Tawfiqia fruit and vegetable market in downtown Cairo, Egypt. (AP)
Updated 30 October 2018
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Egypt’s police step in to combat potato shortage

  • The media have been publicizing raids on warehouses where authorities say businessmen are hoarding potatoes to try to drive up prices
  • The Interior Ministry, which runs the police, has begun selling potatoes at reduced prices at temporary outlets

CAIRO: Egypt’s police are stepping in to fight a potato shortage that has caused prices for the staple to soar beyond the reach of many at a time when Egyptians are struggling with steadily rising food costs.
Pro-government newspapers and TV stations have been publicizing raids on warehouses where authorities say businessmen are hoarding potatoes to try to drive up prices. The raids have showcased the lengths to which authorities are willing to go to prevent popular discontent from boiling over as they impose a raft of austerity measures intended to reform the economy.
For the first time, the Interior Ministry, which runs the police, has begun selling potatoes at reduced prices at temporary outlets, drawing long lines of customers. The move mirrors what the military has done for years, selling food from trucks deployed across the country.
The shortage came at a delicate time, with Egyptians bracing for a new round of price hikes early next year. Many expect fuel costs to rise again, which would have a domino effect on other goods, including farm produce.
Many farmers appear to have avoided planting potatoes this year because their previous harvest was sold at a loss due to higher production costs. Before the shortage, a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of potatoes cost as little as 11 cents, which then rocketed to up to 84 cents at the peak of the shortage last week.
“A tough message has been sent out and that is the government will not stand idly by while hoarding basic items is being done,” Agriculture Minister Ezzedine Abu Stait said in a television interview about the police raids. “We are not saying that merchants should not turn a profit, we are just saying that the profit must be fair.”


UN urges more efforts to integrate migrant children in schools

Around half the world’s forcibly displaced people are under 18, and often have little if any access to public education systems. (AFP)
Updated 11 min 9 sec ago
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UN urges more efforts to integrate migrant children in schools

  • UNESCO said that in the two years since the adoption of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants in 2016, refugees have missed a combined 1.5 billion days of school

PARIS: The UN on Tuesday called on countries to step up efforts to integrate the growing numbers of refugee and migrant children worldwide into their education systems.
The number of school-age migrant and refugee children has risen 26 percent since 2000 to some 18 million, the UNESCO cultural agency wrote in its 2019 Global Education Monitoring report.
Around half the world’s forcibly displaced people are under 18, and often have little if any access to public education systems in the countries where they are seeking asylum.
Even if they are not excluded outright, host countries often lack the resources to offer language classes and ensure the integration of refugee children.
Lebanon and Jordan, with the largest number of refugees per capita as people fled the civil war in neighboring Syria, have imposed separate morning and afternoon classes for citizens and refugees.
Even wealthy Germany would need 42,000 new teachers to properly educate the refugee children taken in as part of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door policy enacted in 2015, which has since been sharply curtailed, the report found.
“Education is the key to inclusion and cohesion,” UNESCO’s chief Audrey Azoulay said in a statement.
“Increased classroom diversity, while challenging for teachers, can also enhance respect for diversity and be an opportunity to learn from others,” she said.
The report also found that first-generation migrants represented 18 percent of students in high-income countries in 2017, up from 15 percent in 2005, representing 36 million students.
But in the EU these students are twice as likely to drop out of the education system early than native-born students.
And in the 34 countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) they were 32 percent less likely on average to achieve basic skills in reading, maths and science in 2015.
“Countries cannot think the job is done once immigrants are in school,” said Manos Antoninis, director of the education report.
Too often, he said, “They end up in slower school tracks or in under-resourced establishments in troubled neighborhoods.”
UNESCO said that in the two years since the adoption of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants in 2016, refugees have missed a combined 1.5 billion days of school.