Egypt not doing enough to tackle human trafficking: US report

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Hundreds of thousands of street children are particularly at risk
Emir Nader July 28, 2015 0 Comments

Egypt faces a significant problem with human trafficking, being host to some of the worst instances of the crime in the world, according to a new US government report.

The report added that the government must do more to tackle the issue and support victims.
The US State Department’s 2015 Trafficking in Persons report on the phenomenon of trafficking and responses to it in nations worldwide, has identified areas in which the Egyptian government must do more to address the crime. It called on Egypt to do more to identify vulnerable groups and to convict traffickers.

“Egypt is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking,” the report notes.
While Egypt does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, it is making “significant efforts” to do so, the report reads. Compared with the previous year, the government has failed to increase anti-trafficking efforts, and has decreased in efforts to identify and protect victims.
The report notes that President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has publicly acknowledged street children, estimated to number between 200,000 and 1 million, are especially vulnerable to trafficking. President Al-Sisi pledged EGP 100m to address this issue in February of this year, but the report suggests there is confusion among “relevant ministries on how this funding was to be allocated for anti-trafficking measures”.

Beyond the vulnerability of children, the report notes that individuals from the GCC, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Kuwait “purchase Egyptian women and girls for ‘temporary’ or ‘summer’ marriages for the purpose of prostitution or forced labour; these arrangements are often facilitated by the victims’ parents and marriage brokers, who profit from the transaction”. This “child sex tourism” occurs mainly in Cairo, Alexandria, and Luxor.

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Syrian refugees who have settled in Egypt are “increasingly” vulnerable to trafficking. Egyptian men are vulnerable to “forced labour in construction, agriculture, and low-paying service jobs in neighbouring countries”.

The government’s failure to properly address the plight of human trafficking has placed Egypt on a ‘tier 2 watch list’ of countries, where despite efforts the phenomenon remains a significant problem.

Egypt has issued a nationwide order for all district courts to gather information from the previous five years, as a way to identify and target anti-trafficking efforts. A hotline has also been set up for the public to register cases and to offer support advice.

Daily News Egypt spoke to Ambassador Naela Gabr, assistant foreign minister for international organisations and the head of the National Coordinating Committee on preventing and combating illegal migration (NCCPIM). She noted that Egypt took large steps from 2010 when a new law against trafficking was introduced.
The law prohibits all forms of trafficking, with penalties between three to 15 years imprisonment and fines, matching the level of punishment for equally severe crimes.

Ambassador Gabr holds that those who are engaged in illegal immigration through networks, smuggled and trafficked are “victims”, and the vision of the government is to provide support. However, the file on trafficking has recently been transferred to the Ministry of Justice. The Ministry of Justice spokesperson was not available for comment when contacted by Daily News Egypt.

According to the report, the government has stated that it carried out 27 potential trafficking investigations, and initiated 15 prosecutions under the law in 2014. The report, however, notes that no one was convicted last year.

A failure to also properly identify those vulnerable to trafficking means that “victims are routinely treated as criminals and punished for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to human trafficking”.

One metric where the government needs to provide enhanced work is the support given to foreign nationals who are trafficked through Egypt, with most support given to Egyptian victims of trafficking. In one phenomenon, men and women from South and Southeast Asia and East Africa are “subjected to forced labour in domestic service, construction, cleaning, and begging”.

However, a key change has been made in Sinai, where between 2009 and 2013 it was understood that up to 30,000 victims had been trafficked. However, the 2015 report notes that military activity in the peninsula has disrupted the trade. It adds that the traffickers in these areas are understood to have relocated to the Western border with Libya.

Yemen

 

A System In Crisis 

The Yemeni people are on my heart heavy tonight.. I know this long but just news.. I wanted to share.. just because the media stops doesn’t mean all is well.. it just means a better story to cover..

14 million
people in Yemen with limited or no access to healthcare
* 1.5m malnourished children, more than 370,000 starving
* 600,000 pregnant women with limited or no medical support
* 10,000 children estimated to die this year of preventable diseases
* 600 heath facilities destroyed, more than 20% of the total
Sources: MSF/Unicef/UN
AP
According to Unicef, nearly 600,000 pregnant women are living in areas where healthcare provisions are limited or non-existent. So many pregnant women are unable to reach a health centre that the charity no longer records figures for infant mortality.
Likewise, there are no reliable records of the number of miscarriages. At the Al-Jumhori there were on average two a week before the war, said Hana Musleh, the head of the maternity department, and now it is more like two or three a day.
Poor diets and lack of medical care are known to increase the risk of miscarriage in war zones. And then there is the fear, said Hana, constant fear. One day last August, three months into her own pregnancy, Hana miscarried when an air strike destroyed the building opposite her house and jolted her down the stairs.
For the babies that survive, and the young children of Yemen, the future is uncertain, if not bleak. Unicef estimates that 10,000 extra children will die this year alone, on top of those killed directly by the conflict, because they cannot get treatment for preventable conditions.
The charity’s figures are shocking: Seven million children have no access to adequate healthcare; 2.6 million children are at risk of contracting measles; 1.8 million at risk from diarrhoea; 1.5 million are malnourished; at least 370,000 are severely malnourished – starving, in other words.

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REUTERS
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Unicef estimates that 1.5 million children in Yemen are suffering from malnutrition
A tiny fraction of the severely malnourished children have access to treatment – some at the Al-Jumhori’s Therapeutic Feeding Centre. Duaa, a baby girl from Saada, was born underweight and her father Wazzan, a farm-worker, could not afford to feed her and her two sisters.
“Before the war I could buy vegetables, I could buy whatever we needed at home,” he said. “But then the war started and that was it, there was nothing. I couldn’t buy her anything.”
Dr Meritxell Relano, Unicef’s deputy representative for Yemen, visited the Therapeutic Feeding Centre in August. “I was holding a six-month old girl and I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “She weighed less than three kilos [6.5lbs]. At six months a child should be eight to ten kilos.”
At six months, Duaa weighed less than four kilos and could not move properly. Now, 20 days short of her first birthday, after five visits to the Al-Jumhori, she weighs nearly six. “Praise God she will be alright,” said Wazzan. “She has put on some weight and she is getting better. Every bit of food we can buy her, we do.”
But there is still a long way to go even for those who find treatment, said Dr Relano: “Even if the children recover and the parents go home, there are no jobs, no income, no way of finding food for their children.”

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REUTERS
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A girl lies in a hospital bed at the Al-Jumhori after an air strike killed six members of her family
In many respects, Yemen’s healthcare crisis is just beginning. The health ministry is approaching the point that it can no longer afford to pay wages or buy supplies, charities warn, and medical staff and students are working dangerously long hours to fill the gaps.
Diseases nearly eradicated before the war, including cholera and malaria, are taking hold again, especially among the more than three million displaced people living in makeshift camps. Thousands will need prosthetic limbs and years of physical rehabilitation.
Mental health is barely an afterthought now in Yemen, leaving the less obvious scars of war untended and untold numbers at risk of post-traumatic stress for years to come. Young children are seeing their families killed in front of them and parents watching their children die. “The best we can do now is try and help them calm down,” said Mr Boucenine.
“For these people, who have mental health problems, who need major reconstructive surgery, the situation is very bad,” he said. “The world needs to do something now because soon it will be too late. For some people it is already too late. Even if the situation stabilises now, this is a terrible burden that will go on for years.”
Meanwhile, the war shows no sign of slowing down. Saudi Arabia remains determined to oust the Houthis, who are entrenched in the capital Sanaa. On Thursday the US fired its own missiles for the first time in the conflict, retaliating against reported Houthi missile strikes against a US Navy ship.
“I try to be optimistic but we are in a very difficult situation now,” said Dr Relano. “If a peace agreement is not signed in the next month, I don’t think the health system can be saved.”
There are small moments of hope amid the crisis. At the Al-Jumhori’s malnutrition centre, Wazzan was getting ready to take Duaa home after her final stay. His youngest daughter has never known peace. “My hope for the future is that the war will end,” he said. “That is all we want.”
Duaa will return to her mother and sisters and to a diet of boiled potato and rice. Wazzan hopes she will slowly return to a normal weight. “God willing, we will feed her from the harvest,” he said.

news from http://www.bbc.com

 

original me

Remembering Flint

imageHere are ten things that you probably don’t know about this crisis because the media, having come to the story so late, can only process so much. But if you live in Flint or the State of Michigan as I do, you know all to well that what the greater public has been told only scratches the surface.
• While the Children in Flint Were Given Poisoned Water to Drink, General Motors Was Given a Special Hookup to the Clean Water. A few months after Governor Snyder removed Flint from the clean fresh water we had been drinking for decades, the brass from General Motors went to him and complained that the Flint River water was causing their car parts to corrode when being washed on the assembly line. The Governor was appalled to hear that GM property was being damaged, so he jumped through a number of hoops and quietly spent $440,000 to hook GM back up to the Lake Huron water, while keeping the rest of Flint on the Flint River water. Which means that while the children in Flint were drinking lead-filled water, there was one — and only one — address in Flint that got clean water: the GM factory.
• For Just $100 a Day, This Crisis Could’ve Been Prevented. Federal law requires that water systems which are sent through lead pipes must contain an additive that seals the lead into the pipe and prevents it from leaching into the water. Someone at the beginning suggested to the Governor that they add this anti-corrosive element to the water coming out of the Flint River. “How much would that cost?” came the question. “$100 a day for three months,” was the answer. I guess that was too much, so, in order to save $9,000, the state government said f*** it — and as a result the State may now end up having to pay upwards of $1.5 billion to fix the mess.
• There’s More Than the Lead in Flint’s Water. In addition to exposing every child in the city of Flint to lead poisoning on a daily basis, there appears to be a number of other diseases we may be hearing about in the months ahead. The number of cases in Flint of Legionnaires Disease has increased tenfoldsince the switch to the river water. Eighty-seven people have come down with it, and at least ten have died. In the five years before the river water, not a single person in Flint had died of Legionnaires Disease. Doctors are now discovering that another half-dozen toxins are being found in the blood of Flint’s citizens, causing concern that there are other health catastrophes which may soon come to light.
• People’s Homes in Flint Are Now Worth Nothing Because They Cant Be Sold. Would you buy a house in Flint right now? Who would? So every homeowner in Flint is stuck with a house that’s now worth nothing. That’s a total home value of $2.4 billion down the economic drain. People in Flint, one of the poorest cities in the U.S., don’t have much to their name, and for many their only asset is their home. So, in addition to being poisoned, they have now a net worth of zero. (And as for employment, who is going to move jobs or start a company in Flint under these conditions? No one.) Has Flint’s future just been flushed down that river?
• While They Were Being Poisoned, They Were Also Being Bombed. Here’s a story which has received little or no coverage outside of Flint. During these two years of water contamination, residents in Flint have had to contend with a decision made by the Pentagon to use Flint for target practice. Literally. Actual unannounced military exercises – complete with live ammo and explosives – were conducted last year inside the city of Flint. The army decided to practice urban warfare on Flint, making use of the thousands of abandoned homes which they could drop bombs on. Streets with dilapidated homes had rocket-propelled grenades fired upon them. For weeks, an undisclosed number of army troops pretended Flint was Baghdad or Damascus and basically had at it. It sounded as if the city was under attack from an invading army or from terrorists. People were shocked this could be going on in their neighborhoods. Wait – did I say “people?” I meant, Flint people.As with the Governor, it was OK to abuse a community that held no political power or money to fight back. BOOM!
• The Wife of the Governor’s Chief of Staff Is a Spokeswoman for Nestle, Michigan’s Largest Owner of Private Water Reserves. As Deep Throat told Woodward and Bernstein: “Follow the money.” Snyder’s chief of staff throughout the two years of Flint’s poisoning, Dennis Muchmore, was intimately involved in all the decisions regarding Flint. His wife is Deb Muchmore, who just happens to be the spokesperson in Michigan for the Nestle Company – the largest owner of private water sources in the State of Michigan. Nestle has been repeatedly sued in northern Michigan for the 200 gallons of fresh water per minute it sucks from out of the ground and bottles for sale as their Ice Mountain brand of bottled spring water. The Muchmores have a personal interest in seeing to it that Nestles grabs as much of Michigan’s clean water was possible – especially when cities like Flint in the future are going to need that Ice Mountain.
• In Michigan, from Flint water, to Crime and Murder, to GM Ignition Switches, It’s a Culture of Death. It’s not just the water that was recklessly used to put people’s lives in jeopardy. There are many things that happen in Flint that would give one the impression that there is a low value placed on human life. Flint has one of the worst murder and crime rates in the country. Just for context, if New York City had the same murder rate as Flint, Michigan, the number of people murdered last year in New York would have been almost 4,000 people – instead of the actual 340 who were killed in NYC in 2015. But it’s not just street crime that makes one wonder about what is going on in Michigan. Last year, it was revealed that, once again, one of Detroit’s automakers had put profit ahead of people’s lives. General Motors learned that it had installed faulty ignition switches in many of its cars. Instead of simply fixing the problem, mid-management staff covered it up from the public. The auto industry has a history of weighing the costs of whether it’s cheaper to spend the money to fix the defect in millions of cars or to simply pay off a bunch of lawsuits filed by the victims surviving family members. Does a cynical, arrogant culture like this make it easy for a former corporate CEO, now Governor, turn a blind eye to the lead that is discovered in a municipality’s drinking water?
• Don’t Call It “Detroit Water” — It’s the Largest Source of Fresh Drinking Water in the World. The media keeps saying Flint was using “Detroit’s water.” It is only filtered and treated at the Detroit Water Plant. The water itself comes from Lake Huron, the third largest body of fresh water in the world. It is a glacial lake formed over 10,000 years ago during the last Ice Age and it is still fed by pure underground springs. Flint is geographically the last place on Earth where one should be drinking poisoned water.
• ALL the Children Have Been Exposed, As Have All the Adults, Including Me. That’s just a fact. If you have been in Flint anytime from April 2014 to today, and you’ve drank the water, eaten food cooked with it, washed your clothes in it, taken a shower, brushed your teeth or eaten vegetables from someone’s garden, you’ve been exposed to and ingested its toxins. When the media says “9,000 children under 6 have been exposed,” that means ALL the children have been exposed because the total number of people under the age of 6 in Flint is… 9,000! The media should just say, “all.” When they say “47 children have tested positive”, that’s just those who’ve drank the water in the last week or so. Lead enters the body and does it’s damage to the brain immediately. It doesn’t stay in the blood stream for longer than a few days and you can’t detect it after a month. So when you hear “47 children”, that’s just those with an exposure in the last 48 hours. It’s really everyone.
• This Was Done, Like So Many Things These Days, So the Rich Could Get a Big Tax Break. When Governor Snyder took office in 2011, one of the first things he did was to get a multi-billion dollar tax break passed by the Republican legislature for the wealthy and for corporations. But with less tax revenues, that meant he had to start cutting costs. So, many things – schools, pensions, welfare, safe drinking water – were slashed. Then he invoked an executive privilege to take over cities (all of them majority black) by firing the mayors and city councils whom the local people had elected, and installing his cronies to act as “dictators” over these cities. Their mission? Cut services to save money so he could give the rich even more breaks. That’s where the idea of switching Flint to river water came from. To save $15 million! It was easy. Suspend democracy. Cut taxes for the rich. Make the poor drink toxic river water. And everybody’s happy.
Except those who were poisoned in the process. All 102,000 of them. In the richest country in the world.

michaelmoore.com>10factsonflint

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