Egyptian FM stresses importance of ‘climate justice’ at UN General Assembly

Egyptian FM stresses importance of ‘climate justice’ at UN General Assembly
Egypt's Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Hassan Shoukry Selim addresses the 78th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York City, US, Sept. 23, 2023. (Reuters)
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Updated 23 September 2023
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Egyptian FM stresses importance of ‘climate justice’ at UN General Assembly

Egyptian FM stresses importance of ‘climate justice’ at UN General Assembly
  • Egyptian FM Sameh Shoukry criticizes construction and operation of Ethiopian Renaissance Dam
  • Minister praises Egypt’s decision to join BRICS, with the country set to become a full member in 2024

NEW YORK: The international community must honor the climate action pledges it made at last year’s COP27 summit, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said on Saturday.

During his speech at the 78th UN General Assembly in New York, Shoukry warned about the future effects of climate change and said that at the UN Climate Change Conference in Sharm Al-Sheikh last year, Egypt “managed to mobilize international consensus to achieve climate justice.” 

He said: “We reached balanced decisions based on the agreed-upon responsibilities and principles as per the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) and Paris Agreement.”

Shoukry called for the improvement of access to development funding for developing countries, and the creation of a “sustainable and comprehensive mechanism to look into the debts of low-income and middle-income countries in addition to looking into the restructuring of the complex structure of debts.”

The minister criticized what he described as an inadequate response to the climate crisis, saying that “certain countries have reneged on their pledges,” and urged the international community to commit to pledges and agreements reached at COP27, particularly the Loss and Damage Fund.

Water and climate change are undoubtedly linked, Shoukry said, adding that Egypt is in the midst of a severe water crisis that has forced the country to reuse water.

In the same vein, he added that Egypt depends on the Nile River to sustain itself, and strongly condemned any unilateral actions taken regarding transnational bodies of water.

“We refuse any unilateral procedures regarding the management of transboundary water, for example, the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which was created without consultation and without previous adequate studies or even any studies for the impact of other states,” he said.

However, Shoukry expressed his country’s desire to reach an agreement on the operation and filling of the dam that would take into account the needs of Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan.

He also expressed concern over the humanitarian situation in Palestine, saying that Egypt supports “the legitimate right of the Palestinian people to establish their independent state … with eastern Jerusalem as its capital.”

Regarding its southern neighbor, the minister called on countries neighboring Sudan to “settle the current crisis and to mitigate the humanitarian repercussions thereof,” adding that Egypt is working to negotiate a cease-fire and political solution to the conflict.

On the global economic stage, Shoukry said that Egypt “looks forward to playing an active role in BRICS to advocate for the interests and aspirations of 30 percent of the global economy in the global south.”

Egypt applied to join the economic bloc this year and will become a full member of BRICS in early 2024.


Houthis and Yemeni government agree to end economic hostilities, expand Yemenia flights

Houthis and Yemeni government agree to end economic hostilities, expand Yemenia flights
Updated 5 sec ago
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Houthis and Yemeni government agree to end economic hostilities, expand Yemenia flights

Houthis and Yemeni government agree to end economic hostilities, expand Yemenia flights
  • UN’s special envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, welcomes deal and acknowledges ‘significant role’ of Saudi Arabia in achieving it
  • Following the surprise announcement, Grundberg said the UN was ready to work with all parties to implement the agreed measures

AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s internationally recognized government have reached an agreement with the Houthis, facilitated by Saudi Arabia, to lift economic sanctions and increase the number of Yemenia Airways flights from Houthi-held Sanaa.
Hans Grundberg, the UN’s special envoy for Yemen, said both parties agreed to ease economic hostilities by canceling their most recent actions taken against banks in areas the other controls and pledged to halt all such measures in the future.
They agreed to increase the frequency of national carrier Yemenia’s flights from Sanaa to Jordan from one to three a day and to introduce daily flights from the capital to Cairo and India. In addition, the two sides will hold discussions about administrative, technological and budgetary issues related to the airline.
They will also hold talks on the humanitarian and economic challenges under an UN-proposed peace plan known as “the road map.”
Following the surprise announcement, Grundberg said the UN was ready to work with all parties to implement the agreed measures. He also “recognized the significant role of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in bringing this agreement about.”
The economic dispute between the government and the Houthis escalated in recent weeks when the government’s Central Bank sanctioned six banks in Houthi-held Sanaa and withdrew their licenses after they refused to relocate their headquarters from Sanaa to government stronghold Aden. The Central Bank had also withdrawn banknotes printed before 2016, which were in extensive use in Houthi-controlled areas, and shut down currency-exchange companies.
The economic sanctions were introduced after the Houthis this year, for the first time since the start of the civil war a decade ago, minted a new currency. The Yemeni government viewed this as an effort by the militia to establish an autonomous economy. The government also ordered Yemenia and telecoms companies to relocate their headquarters to Aden.
In an attempt to put pressure on the government to end its severe economic sanctions, the Houthis seized control of four Yemenia aircraft last month, announced that they would run the airline from Sanaa and threatened to fully restart the war. The militia previously attacked oil terminals in the government-controlled provinces of Shabwa and Hadramout, halting oil exports and preventing the circulation of banknotes printed by the Central Bank. They also banned traders in areas under their control from importing goods through the government and blocked the import of gas from the central city of Marib.
The Yemeni government said it eased its economic sanctions and reached an agreement with the Houthis to avoid exacerbating the economic crisis in militia-controlled areas, in response to requests from the business community and to comply with UN, regional and international mediation efforts.
“The government reiterates its steadfast determination not to subject Yemeni citizens in regions violently controlled by Houthi militia to additional living costs as a consequence of the militants’ unilateral actions, and to allow them to travel,” the official SABA news agency reported.
However critics of the deal, such as Kamel Al-Khoudani from the political bureau of the Yemeni National Resistance, said the government had conceded to Houthi demands for additional flights and an end to punitive measures against banks in Sanaa even though the militia had failed to meet counter-demands, including the resumption of oil exports.
Supporters, such as Yemeni journalist Sami Al-Kaf, argued that the government had successfully coerced the Houthis, who have previously rejected all demands to participate in negotiations, into agreeing to economic talks.


UN investigators decry patterns of grave violations in Sudan

UN investigators decry patterns of grave violations in Sudan
Updated 27 min 38 sec ago
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UN investigators decry patterns of grave violations in Sudan

UN investigators decry patterns of grave violations in Sudan
  • The people they spoke to had detailed firsthand accounts of “horrific acts of killings, sexual violence, including gang rape,” the team said
  • The investigators said that many of the violations appeared to be particularly targeted against professionals

GENEVA: A team of UN investigators said Tuesday they had met in Chad with victims of violence in Sudan’s brutal civil war and had documented “disturbing patterns” of grave abuses.
The recently established UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the situation in Sudan said it had spent three weeks in Chad meeting with survivors of the conflict in Sudan, members of Sudanese civil society and other observers.
The people they spoke to had detailed firsthand accounts of “horrific acts of killings, sexual violence, including gang rape,” the team said in a statement.
“These brutal acts must stop and the perpetrators must be brought to justice,” mission member Mona Rishmawi said.
The fact-finding mission, which was created by the UN Human Rights Council late last year to investigate alleged abuses in the conflict, also described “arbitrary detention, torture (and) enforced disappearances.”
It had also heard of “looting, the burning of houses, and the use of child soldiers,” it said.
The investigators said that many of the violations appeared to be particularly targeted against professionals like lawyers, rights defenders, teachers and doctors.
“Forced displacement was a common feature.”
War has raged in the northeast African country for more than a year between the regular military under army chief Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) led by his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.
Both sides have been accused of war crimes including deliberately targeting civilians, indiscriminate shelling of residential areas and blocking humanitarian aid, as famine threatens.
The war, which began in April 2023, has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and uprooted more than 10 million people inside the country while two million more have fled across borders, according to the UN.
More than 600,000 of those have made their way to Chad.
The independent experts, who do not speak on behalf of the United Nations, called on the international community to urgently step up efforts to end the conflict.
“This crisis requires the support of the international community as a whole,” said mission chair Mohamed Chande Othman.


Egypt’s El-Sisi checks on Trump after assassination attempt

Egypt’s El-Sisi checks on Trump after assassination attempt
Updated 23 July 2024
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Egypt’s El-Sisi checks on Trump after assassination attempt

Egypt’s El-Sisi checks on Trump after assassination attempt

CAIRO: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi spoke on the phone with former US President Donald Trump to check on his health after an assassination attempt, the Egyptian presidency said.
Trump had expressed strong support to El-Sisi during his term in face of protests against him in 2019, calling El-Sisi a great leader.


Israel tanks advance deeper in southern Gaza as more ceasefire talks expected

People carry children injured during Israeli bombardment as people flee at the Al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip
People carry children injured during Israeli bombardment as people flee at the Al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip
Updated 23 July 2024
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Israel tanks advance deeper in southern Gaza as more ceasefire talks expected

People carry children injured during Israeli bombardment as people flee at the Al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip
  • Gaza health officials said Israeli military strikes since Monday killed at least 80 Palestinians in the Khan Younis area
  • UN officials described scenes of despair on Tuesday as Israeli airstrikes hit the area

CAIRO/JERUSALEM: Palestinian residents of eastern neighborhoods of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip fled their homes on Tuesday as Israeli tanks advanced deep into the area after Israel ordered the population to evacuate.
The tanks pushed into the Khan Younis town of Bani Suhaila and several districts nearby were bombed for a second day, forcing tens of thousands of civilians to seek refuge elsewhere. Israel said its action was to prevent Hamas fighters from regrouping.
Gaza health officials said Israeli military strikes since Monday killed at least 80 Palestinians in the Khan Younis area — adding to a death toll of more than 39,000 in nearly 10 months of warfare, according to Gaza authorities’ figures.
The Israeli military said Hamas and other groups used those areas to renew attacks, including firing rockets.
UN officials described scenes of despair on Tuesday as Israeli airstrikes hit the area.
“The situation is impossible,” the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA said on X.
In a later post, it said there was nowhere safe to go in Gaza.
“People are exhausted from the continuous displacement and unlivable conditions & they are trapped in increasingly small & overcrowded areas,” it said.
The Israeli military said dozens of militants had been killed in Khan Younis by its tanks and warplanes or in close-quarter combat. Weapon caches and tunnels used by the militants had been destroyed, it said.
Palestinian medics said one person was killed in an Israeli airstrike in the area on Tuesday. The Gaza health ministry does not distinguish between combatants and non-combatants. Health officials have said most of those killed have been civilians.
Residents in Khan Younis said tanks remained stationed deep inside Bani Suhaila. Soldiers were seen searching inside the town’s main cemetery, while others commandeered roofs of high-rise buildings, firing their guns toward the western areas from time to time, residents said.
In the Bureij camp in the central Gaza Strip, where six Palestinians were killed by an Israeli airstrike on a house, some residents said they had received calls from Israeli security officers ordering them to leave their homes. Some families headed toward the Nuseirat camp to the west.
Later on Tuesday, residents said Israeli forces had blown up several homes in Rafah, where Israel said its operation since May aimed to dismantle the last Hamas battalions.

Ceasefire hopes 
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told families of hostages held in Gaza that a deal that would secure their release could be near, his office said on Tuesday.
The hostages were seized in a Hamas raid into southern Israel on Oct. 7 in which about 1,200 people were killed and around and 250 taken captive, according to Israeli tallies, an action that triggered the assualt on Gaza.
Hamas and other militants are still holding 120 hostages, around a third of whom have been declared dead in absentia by Israeli authorities.
Netanyahu is currently in Washington and is expected to meet US President Joe Biden later this week after making an address to Congress.
Speaking in the US capital on Monday to families of hostages, he said: “The conditions (for a deal) are undoubtedly ripening. This is a good sign.”
Months of efforts mediated by Egypt and Qatar to reach a ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas gained momentum in recent weeks under a proposal outlined by Biden in May before stalling again.
“Unfortunately, it will not take place all at once; there will be stages. However, I believe that we can advance the deal,” Netanyahu said.
Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters there was nothing new in Netanyahu’s stance.
“Netanyahu is still stalling and he is sending delegations only to calm the anger of Israeli captives’ families,” he said.
An Israeli negotiation team was due on Thursday to resume talks that would include hostages being released in return for Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. In a week-long truce in November, 105 hostages were freed in return for 240 Palestinian prisoners.
According to two Egyptian security sources, Israel informed Egypt that an Israeli delegation would arrive in Cairo on Wednesday evening, saying it would bring positive responses in order to progress toward an agreement. 


Houthis, Yemen govt reach financial ‘de-escalation’ deal: UN envoy

Houthis, Yemen govt reach financial ‘de-escalation’ deal: UN envoy
Updated 23 July 2024
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Houthis, Yemen govt reach financial ‘de-escalation’ deal: UN envoy

Houthis, Yemen govt reach financial ‘de-escalation’ deal: UN envoy
  • On Monday, two sides informed the UN envoy to Yemen that they “agreed on several measures to de-escalate”
  • It came as the warring parties were locked in a fight for control over the country’s banks, with both facing a severe financial crunch

DUBAI: Yemen’s government and the Iran-backed Houthis have agreed to halt tit-for-tat banking sanctions as they wrestle for control of the country’s financial institutions, the United Nations said on Tuesday.
The Houthis have been fighting the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen since March 2015, months after they seized the capital Sanaa and most of Yemen’s population centers, forcing the internationally recognized government south to Aden.
The militia and the government had in December committed to a UN-led roadmap to end the war, agreeing to work toward “the resumption of an inclusive political process.”
But Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping since November and subsequent US and British retaliation have put peace talks on hold.
On Monday, the two sides informed Hans Grundberg, the UN envoy to Yemen, that they “agreed on several measures to de-escalate,” said a statement from Grundberg’s office, which thanked Saudi Arabia for its “significant role” in brokering the deal.
It came as the warring parties were locked in a fight for control over the country’s banks, with both facing a severe financial crunch.
Their latest agreement involves “canceling all the recent decisions and procedures against banks by both sides and refraining in the future from any similar decisions or procedures,” the envoy’s office said.
In May, the government-controlled central bank banned transactions with six banks in Houthi-held Sanaa for failing to abide by an order to relocate to Aden.
As a result, currency exchange offices, money transfer agencies and banks in government-held areas could no longer work with those financial institutions.
The Houthis, who run their own central bank and use different bank notes with different exchange rates, said the move was a disguised attempt by the United States and Saudi Arabia to exert financial pressure on the Houthi banking system.
They retaliated by banning any dealings with 13 banks in Aden, which means those in Houthi-held areas could no longer receive remittances through them or withdraw and deposit funds.
After striking their latest agreement, the warring parties will convene “meetings to discuss all economic and humanitarian issues based on the(UN) roadmap,” said Grundberg’s office.
It stressed “the need for the parties to collaborate toward an economy that benefits all Yemenis and supports the implementation of a nationwide ceasefire and the resumption of an inclusive political process.”
The statement said the warring parties have also agreed to settle disputes over Yemenia, the country’s national airline, which has accused the Houthis of freezing its funds held in Sanaa banks.
Meetings will be “convened to address the administrative, technical, and financial challenges faced by the company,” the statement said.
Yemenia flights will resume between Sanaa and Jordan, and the number of trips will be raised to three daily, according to the deal. Yemenia will also operate flights to Cairo and India “daily or as needed,” the statement said.