Egypt scraps Mubarak ruling over telecoms shutdown

An Egyptian court on Saturday scrapped a ruling to fine ousted president Hosni Mubarak and two top aides for a telecommunications shutdown during the 2011 uprising. (Reuters)
Updated 24 March 2018

Egypt scraps Mubarak ruling over telecoms shutdown

CAIRO: An Egyptian court on Saturday scrapped a ruling to fine ousted president Hosni Mubarak and two top aides for a telecommunications shutdown during the 2011 uprising, a judicial source said.
In the first days of the revolt that unseated Mubarak, authorities cut off the Internet and mobile phone services in the country as they cracked down on protesters who relied heavily on social networks to mobilize.
As a result Egypt’s four main Internet service providers cut off international access to their customers in a near simultaneous move, while mobile service was also disrupted.
At the time experts said the shutdown in Egypt — which sparked condemnation around the world -was the most comprehensive official electronic blackout of its kind.
The top Supreme Administrative Court had ordered Mubarak, his prime minister Ahmad Nazif and his interior minister Habib Al-Adly to pay a cumulative fine of 540 million Egyptian pounds in damages.
The court, which had been petitioned by a lawyer who filed a suit against the ousted president and his aides, had ordered Mubarak to pay 200 million Egyptian pounds, Adly 300 million and Nazif the rest.
Saturday’s decision comes as Egypt gears up for a presidential election that looks certain to see President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi secure a second four-year term.
Mubarak and many members of his ousted government were detained or tried after the 2011 uprising.
The former president went on trial in August 2011 for involvement in the killing of protesters and corruption and was detained most of the time in a military hospital.
In March 2017, he was freed after having been acquitted of involvement in killing protesters and serving three years for corruption.
In January, an Egyptian court overturned a seven-year prison sentence against Adly and ordered a retrial on accusations of embezzlement.
Nazif was sentenced in 2011 to three years in prison for corruption.


Locust invasion in Yemen stokes food insecurity fears

A Yemeni tries to catch locusts on the rooftop of his house as they swarm several parts of the country bringing in devastations and destruction of major seasonal crops. (AFP)
Updated 13 July 2020

Locust invasion in Yemen stokes food insecurity fears

  • Billions of locusts invaded farms, cities and villages, devouring seasonal crops

AL-MUKALLA: Locust swarms have swept over farms in central, southern and eastern parts of Yemen, ravaging crops and stoking fears of food insecurity.

Residents and farmers in the provinces of Marib, Hadramout, Mahra and Abyan said that billions of locusts had invaded farms, cities and villages, devouring important seasonal crops such as dates and causing heavy losses.
“This is like a storm that razes anything it encounters,” Hussein Ben Al-Sheikh Abu Baker, an agricultural official from Hadramout’s Sah district, told Arab News on Sunday.
Images and videos posted on social media showed layers of creeping locusts laying waste to lemon farms in Marb, dates and alfalfa farms in Hadramout and flying swarms plunging cities into darkness. “The locusts have eaten all kinds of green trees, including the sesban tree. The losses are huge,” Abu Baker added.
Heavy rains and flash floods have hit several Yemeni provinces over the last couple of months, creating fruitful conditions for locusts to reproduce. Farmers complained that locusts had wiped out entire seasonal crops that are grown after rains.
Abu Baker said that he visited several affected farms in Hadramout, where farmers told him that if the government would not compensate them for the damage that it should at least get ready for a second potential locust wave that might occur in 10 days.
“The current swarms laid eggs that are expected to hatch in 10 days. We are bracing for the second wave of the locusts.”  
Last year, the UN said that the war in Yemen had disrupted vital monitoring and control efforts and several waves of locusts to hit neighboring countries had originated from Yemen.

This is like a storm that razes anything it encounters.

Hussein Ben Al-Sheikh Abu Baker, a Yemeni agricultural official

Yemeni government officials, responsible for battling the spread of locusts, have complained that fighting and a lack of funding have obstructed vital operations for combating the insects.
Ashor Al-Zubairi, the director of the Locust Control Unit at the Ministry of Agriculture in Hadramout’s Seiyun city, said that the ministry was carrying out a combat operation funded by the Food and Agriculture Organization in Hadramout and Mahra, but complained that the operation might fall short of its target due to a lack of funding and equipment.
“The spraying campaign will end in a week which is not enough to cover the entire plagued areas,” Al-Zubairi told Arab News. “We suggested increasing the number of spraying equipment or extending the campaign.”
He said that a large number of villagers had lost their source of income after the locusts ate crops and sheep food, predicting that the outbreak would likely last for at least two weeks if urgent control operations were not intensified and fighting continued. “Combating teams could not cross into some areas in Marib due to fighting.”
The widespread locust invasion comes as the World Food Programme (WFP) on July 10 sent an appeal for urgent funds for its programs in Yemen, warning that people would face starvation otherwise.
“There are 10 million people who are facing (an) acute food shortage, and we are ringing the alarm bell for these people, because their situation is deteriorating because of escalation and because of the lockdowns, the constraints and the social-economic impact of the coronavirus,” WFP spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs told reporters in Geneva.