Yemen’s ambassador to Egypt accused of ‘stealing’ top students’ scholarships ‘for friends’ 

Activists and journalists have previously accused Ambassador Mohamed Marem of involvement in corruption during his post in Egypt. (Screen grab)
Updated 27 September 2019

Yemen’s ambassador to Egypt accused of ‘stealing’ top students’ scholarships ‘for friends’ 

  • Fatima Hajar, who received a 99.7 percent average grade, discovered her scholarship to study medicine was given away
  • Ambassador Mohamed Marem was accused of corruption and “stealing” government scholarships to give to “his friends'” children

Yemen’s ambassador in Egypt, Mohamed Marem, was accused of corruption and “stealing” government scholarships of Yemeni students to give to “his friends’” children, Yemeni media reported.

Fatima Hajar, who received a 99.7 percent average grade from school, arrived in Cairo after receiving a government scholarship to study medicine in Egypt, but found out that Marem had given her place to the daughter of one of his diplomatic friends, activists reported.

Four similar cases of students who had their government scholarships stolen were also reported, the activists added.

The corruption scandal caused an outcry among the Yemeni community and lead to an official announcement from the Yemeni government that the allegations would be investigated.

Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed also instructed the ministers of Higher Education and Foreign Affairs to complete the admission procedures of the students who have had their scholarships taken.

The prime minister also directed the two ministries to promptly open an investigation within the embassy in Cairo.

The official statement from the government confirmed that the Yemeni embassy in Cairo had taken five scholarships from top students and awarded them to other students who were close to embassy staff.

The Ministry of Higher Education has denounced the embassy in Egypt for giving the students scholarships - awarded by the ministry - to other students, and outside the ministry’s approval.

The ministry noted that it would not hesitate to take any appropriate legal action in cases of violation to preserve the interests of students.

Activists and journalists have previously accused Marem of involvement in corruption during his post in Egypt.


‘Jury still out’ on new Lebanon government, says rights chief

Updated 54 min 26 sec ago

‘Jury still out’ on new Lebanon government, says rights chief

  • The executive director of Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth, said it was too early to say if the new government would be any better than its predecessor
  • Kenneth Roth: We’ve seen in Lebanon a government that can’t even clean up the garbage, they can’t deliver electricity, they can’t provide the most basic services

DAVOS: The “jury is still out” on whether the new government in Lebanon will be any different to the old one, the head of Human Rights Watch told Arab News on Friday.

Lebanon has been convulsed by demonstrations since October, when people took to the streets to protest against corruption, unemployment, a lack of basic services and economic problems. Political veteran Saad Hariri resigned as prime minister so that a new cabinet could be formed, but it took time to assemble a coalition.

The executive director of Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth, said it was too early to say if the new government would be any better than its predecessor. He warned, however, that the early signs were not promising.

“We’ve seen in Lebanon a government that can’t even clean up the garbage, they can’t deliver electricity, they can’t provide the most basic services,” Roth told Arab News on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos. “It’s not at all clear that the more technocratic government that has been put in place is going to be responsive to the needs of the people and able to deliver. The jury is still out on that. While the government has responded to the protesters’ demand on a political level by changing personnel, the security forces on the ground have often responded violently, and in repeated instances used excessive force rather than respect the rights of the protesters to petition their government to appeal for a government that is more respectful of their needs and accountable to their desires.”

According to Amnesty International, Lebanese security forces’ unlawful use of rubber bullets last weekend left at least 409 protesters injured, some seriously, in the most violent weekend since the protests began on Oct. 17.

“The protesters in Lebanon are upset by what they see as a dysfunctional and unaccountable government, I mean they are the most basic services that are not being provided,” Roth said, adding that the government was getting “increasingly intolerant.”

He also expressed concern about the plight of Syrian refugees in Lebanon. The rights’ group says there are around 1.5 million of them in the country and that 74 percent lack legal status. “Authorities heightened calls for the return of refugees in 2018 and municipalities have forcibly evicted thousands of refugees,” the group said in a report.

“Syrian refugees obviously do impose a burden on Lebanon, but nonetheless there are legal obligations and the government really led by President (Michel) Aoun rather than former Prime Minister Hariri has been trying to make life more miserable for the refugees in the hope of forcing them back to Syria despite the fact that Syria remains completely unsafe,” Roth said.

Aoun and his son-in-law, former foreign minister Gebran Bassil, head the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) which has the biggest parliamentary bloc. Aoun and Bassil have repeatedly claimed that Syria is now a safe and peaceful country and that the refugees should go back.

“It is not safe to force anybody back, the Lebanese government knows this in the sense that they are not putting guns to people’s heads and forcing them back, but they’re doing the metaphorical equivalent by making life so miserable that many refugees feel that despite the risks to their lives, they have to go back to Syria because there’s nothing for them in Lebanon,” Roth added.