Four dead in Egypt building collapse: security source

Four dead in Egypt building collapse: security source
Egypt has suffered many deadly building collapses in recent years, due to poor or non-existent maintenance and low enforcement of construction standards. (File: Reuters)
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Updated 26 June 2021

Four dead in Egypt building collapse: security source

Four dead in Egypt building collapse: security source
  • The dilapidated building, located in the Al-Attarine district, collapsed on Friday

CAIRO: Four women were killed by the collapse of a residential building in the northern Egyptian city of Alexandria, a security official said Saturday.
The dilapidated building, located in the Al-Attarine district, collapsed on Friday, the source told AFP, on condition of anonymity.
Along with the four fatalities, civil protection workers “extracted four survivors,” one of whom was wounded, the source added.
The five-story building was the subject of a renovation order in 2018, according to the Alexandria governorate’s Facebook page, and authorities had ordered that the top floor be dismantled.
The centers of Alexandria and Cairo host many buildings dating back to the 19th and early 20th century.
Some have long housed the middle classes and public institutions, but many have fallen into disrepair.
Egypt has suffered many deadly building collapses in recent years, due to poor or non-existent maintenance and low enforcement of construction standards.


Egypt calls for calm after violence rocks Libyan capital  

Egypt calls for calm after violence rocks Libyan capital  
Updated 24 sec ago

Egypt calls for calm after violence rocks Libyan capital  

Egypt calls for calm after violence rocks Libyan capital  
  • Rival armed factions clash as PM Fathi Bashagha arrives in Tripoli to take over government
  • Clashes come after Government of National Unity headed by Abdel Hamid Dabaiba refuses to hand over power

CAIRO: Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that it is following events in Tripoli with “concern” after violent clashes erupted overnight in the Libyan capital.

Rival armed factions clashed after the parliament-appointed prime minister Fathi Bashagha tried to take over government but was forced to withdraw by the Government of National Unity headed by Abdel Hamid Dabaiba and in the face of opposition from Libya’s military.

Egypt has called for calm after the clashes, which come after weeks of dispute over Libya’s premiership.

“We stress once again the need to maintain calm in Libya, and to preserve the lives, property and capabilities of the Libyan people,” Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez said.

Egypt urged all Libyan parties to exercise restraint and refrain from taking any steps that would fuel violence.

The Foreign Ministry stressed “the inevitability of dialogue in order to reach the holding of presidential and legislative elections in Libya simultaneously and without delay.”

It warned of the “importance of the constitutional track dialogue currently taking place in Cairo, in a way that achieves the aspirations and hopes of the brotherly Libyan people in moving toward the future at a steady pace.”

According to Libyan reports, the clashes erupted in the Mansoura and Souk Al-Thalath areas, in the center of Tripoli, hours after Bashagha arrived in the city to begin the work of his government mandated by the Libyan House of Representatives stationed in the east of the country.


World’s tallest building engulfed as Mideast sandstorms hit UAE

World’s tallest building engulfed as Mideast sandstorms hit UAE
Updated 38 min 33 sec ago

World’s tallest building engulfed as Mideast sandstorms hit UAE

World’s tallest building engulfed as Mideast sandstorms hit UAE
  • The 828m Burj Khalifa, which towers over Dubai and is usually visible across the financial hub, retreated behind a curtain of airborne dirt that shrouded much of the country
  • The Middle East’s sandstorms are becoming more frequent and intense, a trend associated with overgrazing and deforestation, overuse of river water and more dams

DUBAI: The world’s tallest building disappeared behind a grey layer of dust on Wednesday as sandstorms that have swept the Middle East hit the United Arab Emirates, prompting weather and traffic warnings.
The 828-meter (2,716 ft, 6ins) Burj Khalifa, which towers over Dubai and is usually visible across the busy financial hub, retreated behind a curtain of airborne dirt that shrouded much of the country.
The UAE is just the latest country in the path of sandstorms that have smothered Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iran and others in recent days, closing airports and schools and sending thousands to hospital with breathing problems.
Capital city Abu Dhabi’s air quality index (AQI) soared into the “hazardous” zone overnight, according to waqi.info and the Plume pollution app.
The Middle East’s sandstorms are becoming more frequent and intense, a trend associated with overgrazing and deforestation, overuse of river water and more dams.
Experts say the phenomenon could worsen as climate change warps regional weather patterns and drives desertification.
Emirati authorities issued a nationwide warning urging residents to remain vigilant.
“Abu Dhabi Police urges drivers to be cautious due to low visibility during high winds and dust,” the police force tweeted, as residents took to social media to publish photos and videos.
“Please do not be distracted by taking any videos or using your phone,” it added.
A National Center for Meteorology graphic showed nearly all the country covered by the storm, with the warning: “Be on the alert: hazardous weather events are expected.”
Winds with speeds up to 40 kilometers (25 miles) per hour are blowing the dust, it said, reducing visibility in some areas to less than 2,000 meters (2,200 yards).
However, a Dubai airports spokesman said there was no impact on air traffic. Weather conditions were expected to remain the same for the next few days.
In neighboring Saudi Arabia, badly hit on Tuesday, conditions eased in the capital Riyadh on Wednesday but continued to restrict visibility in the city center.
Emergency rooms in Riyadh hospitals received some 1,285 people suffering from respiratory problems over 24 hours from the sandstorm, the state-run Al-Ekhbariya channel reported late on Tuesday.
The Saudi national weather center reported that dust was also affecting visibility in the west and south, specifically in Assir, Najran, Hael and Medina provinces. Medina is home to Medina city, the second-holiest city in Islam.
The center predicted another sandstorm would arrive in the kingdom by Sunday.


Female war correspondents in the spotlight at Arab Women Forum

Female war correspondents in the spotlight at Arab Women Forum
Updated 12 min 41 sec ago

Female war correspondents in the spotlight at Arab Women Forum

Female war correspondents in the spotlight at Arab Women Forum
  • Sky News reporter Arizh Mukhammed says conflicts bring journalists “closer to people’s suffering” 
  • Al-Hadath TV anchor Christiane Baissary debunks notion that women are not suited for war reporting

DUBAI: Journalists, whether they are men or women, have a duty to find out the truth and to tell the human story behind major world events, including the harsh realities of war. But, by virtue of their gender, are women better equipped to tell those stories? 

The view of women as the more “emotional” sex can sound dated to modern ears. But when a female journalist enters a war zone, it is often acknowledged that her access to the private lives of her sources, particularly families caught up in conflict, is often markedly different to the reception experienced by a male correspondent. 

Arizh Mukhammed is a Moscow-based war reporter for Sky News Arabia. Over the past few months, she had been deployed to the front lines in Ukraine to report on the Russian invasion, braving armed conflict and the human tragedies of war. 

“It is not easy to cover war, because, like any human being, you feel fear. And I feel fear,” Mukhammed told a panel discussion a session entitled “Storytellers from the war front” at the Arab Women Forum in Dubai on Tuesday. 

Mukhammed, who is half Russian and half Syrian, says wars bring journalists “closer to peoples’ suffering,” making it all the more difficult to remain objective about what they are witnessing. 

But the ability to empathize with the men, women and children a reporter encounters while deployed in a war zone undoubtedly gives their coverage a powerful human dimension that allows viewers to experience the agonies of distant conflicts. 

The question is, are women better equipped than men to document such accounts? 

“Women war journalists give a deeper dimension to human suffering,” Mukhammed told Arab News at the forum. 

“While men might surround themselves with the impression that they are strong and fearless, women have actually shown they are much more patient.” 

Christiane Baissary, a senior news anchor for the Al-Hadath news channel, said there is a common misconception that women are not suited for war coverage. 

“A soldier once told me that women should not be in a war zone. He was trying to convince me that I should not stay to cover the war,” she said. 

“This mentality is not just in the Middle East but everywhere,” Baissary said, adding that things have since changed and women are gaining more opportunities to cover conflict zones. 

The image many harbour of the intrepid war correspondent is patently masculine — a gung-ho adventurer who risks kidnap, injury, or even death to get as close as possible to the blood and gun smoke of war. 

Indeed, the role of a war correspondent can be extremely dangerous. On May 11, Al Jazeera correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh was shot dead in the West Bank city of Jenin while reporting on an Israeli arrest operation, despite wearing protective gear clearly identifying her as a member of the press. 

“The killing of Abu Akleh is another serious attack on media freedom and freedom of expression, amid the escalation of violence in the occupied West Bank,” UN experts Morris Tidball-Binz, Reem Alsalem, and Irene Khan said in a statement on May 13. 

They called for a prompt and impartial investigation into the killing of Abu Akleh, in full compliance with UN regulations. 

“The role of journalists, especially in a context of heightened tension and marked by continuous abuses, like the occupied Palestinian territory, is critical,” the statement read. 

“Lack of accountability gives carte blanche to continue the litany of extrajudicial executions. The safety of journalists is essential in guaranteeing freedom of expression and media freedom.” 

Of course, Abu Akleh was only the latest reporter to be killed while on duty. According to the press advocacy organization Reporters Without Borders, scores of journalists are killed every year worldwide in connection with their work. Nearly a thousand have died over the past decade alone. 

“I think it was really important for us to highlight female war correspondents and women correspondents because what they are doing is out of the ordinary,” said Noor Nugali, assistant editor-in-chief at Arab News, who presided over Tuesday’s panel. 

“Usually when people think of correspondents, the first thing that comes to their minds (is that) women are too soft, women are incapable of handling such situations. 

“But, in reality, it shows the resilience of women, strength of women, and their capability of getting all angles and facts straight.” 

This evolving image of women, particularly those in the Arab world, was a key feature of the Arab Women Forum, and a special session, entitled “Saudi women pioneers: Change from within,” explored the issue in depth. 

“I think the creation of Vision 2030 is life-changing, honestly, for a lot of women and young people,” Lama Alshethri, editor-in-chief of Sayedati, one of the best-known magazines in the Arab region, told the panel. 

“I think we, our generation, have been able to reap some of the fruits of Saudi Vision 2030. And we were prepared for the change.” 

Vision 2030, the social and economic reform agenda announced in 2016 by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, emphasizes the need to inspire and empower all members of the society to realize the Kingdom’s full potential. 

Subsequently, women’s empowerment in the Kingdom has expanded rapidly. Saudi women are now more active in different spheres of the public and private sector. 

“I have not seen the change. I lived it,” Princess Reema bint Bandar, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US, said in a special address opening Tuesday’s forum. 

“I know how important it is to open the workplace for women,” she said. 

“(However,) I realized that opening the doors wasn’t enough. Women had to be prepared to take advantage of those open doors and we have to equip them with skills.”


‘Conflict, destruction’ prevent return to Iraq’s Yazidi heartland: NGO

‘Conflict, destruction’ prevent return to Iraq’s Yazidi heartland: NGO
Updated 18 May 2022

‘Conflict, destruction’ prevent return to Iraq’s Yazidi heartland: NGO

‘Conflict, destruction’ prevent return to Iraq’s Yazidi heartland: NGO
  • ‘Nearly two-thirds of Sinjar’s population — over 193,000 Yazidis, Arabs, and Kurds — remain displaced’
  • The Yazidis are a Kurdish-speaking minority who were persecuted by Daesh for their non-Muslim faith

BAGHDAD: Violence and sluggish reconstruction have prevented the return to Iraq’s northwestern town of Sinjar of its predominantly Yazidi population after the abuses of militant rule, the Norwegian Refugee Council said Wednesday.
Five years after the defeat of the Daesh group, which committed massacres against the Yazidis and used their women as sex slaves, the town’s Yazidi, Muslim Kurdish and Arab residents are no closer to returning home, especially after a surge in violence earlier this month.
The aid group said that “nearly two-thirds of Sinjar’s population — over 193,000 Yazidis, Arabs, and Kurds — remain displaced.”
The Yazidis are a Kurdish-speaking minority who were persecuted by Daesh for their non-Muslim faith after its capture of the town in 2014.
“Widespread destruction of civilian houses, new clashes, and social tensions” are preventing returns, NRC said in a report.
Out of 1,500 people surveyed by the aid group to determine how decisions to return home are made, about 64 percent “said their homes were heavily damaged.”
“A staggering 99 percent of those who applied for government compensation had not received any funding for damaged property,” it said.
“Families from Sinjar remain in displacement, with thousands still living in camps,” NRC’s country director for Iraq, James Munn, said.
“We need durable solutions put in place so Iraqi families can once again start living their lives and plan for a safer future.”
The aid group called on the Iraqi government and the authorities in the autonomous Kurdistan region to “prioritize the rehabilitation of infrastructure and the restoration of services to allow for safe housing, land, and property, alongside public infrastructure.”
Some “80 percent of public infrastructure and 70 percent of civilian homes in Sinjar were destroyed” during the conflict years ago, the NRC said.
In early May, fighting broke out between Iraqi troops and Yazidi fighters affiliated with Turkey’s banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), killing at least one Iraqi soldier.
The Iraqi army was seeking to apply an agreement between Baghdad and the Kurdistan region for the withdrawal of Yazidi and PKK fighters from Sinjar.
More than 10,000 people fled the latest fighting, adding to the population of displaced.


Iran seizes foreign ship with smuggled fuel, detains crew – IRNA

Iran seizes foreign ship with smuggled fuel, detains crew – IRNA
Updated 18 May 2022

Iran seizes foreign ship with smuggled fuel, detains crew – IRNA

Iran seizes foreign ship with smuggled fuel, detains crew – IRNA
  • The ship is carrying more than 550,000 liters of smuggled fuel

DUBAI: Iranian authorities seized a foreign ship attempting to smuggle fuel out of the country and detained its crew, state news agency IRNA said on Wednesday.

Iran, which has some of the world’s cheapest fuel prices due to heavy subsidies and the plunge in value of its national currency, has been fighting rampant fuel smuggling by land to neighboring countries and by sea to Gulf Arab states.

The ship, carrying more than 550,000 liters of smuggled fuel, was seized in Gulf waters and escorted to harbor in the southern province of Hormozgan, where it was handed to judicial authorities for investigation, the agency added.

“We were able to identify and detain a ship carrying smuggled fuel intended to transport large-scale smuggled fuel shipments east of Maru Island,” chief of provincial border guards Hossein Dehaki said.

Several ships in recent months have been detained for smuggling fuel in the Gulf by Iranian authorities.