National Education Committee adopts plan for discussing Education Policy

DUBAI – Emarat Al-Youm

The Committee on Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Affairs, and Information discussed Education Policy at a meeting yesterday, chaired by Committee president Naima Abdullah al-Sharhan. The Committee adopted the policy recommendations of the Assembly for higher education and scientific research.

Al-Sharhan said that the work plan included field visits to schools, as well as the convening of seminars for teachers, students, and the parents of students, along with all those interested in education policy. Special questionnaires for teachers are also included in the plan.

She indicated that in the coming weeks, the Committee will commence visits to school districts around the country. She explained that the committee had discussed the proposal from several perspectives, among them the practical burden and welfare of the teachers, students, and education directors; the administration of education; and the schedule for the academic year. She also said that the Committee had adopted her recommendations for ‘Ministry of Education’ policy, which include the revision of salaries and incentives for faculty and staff in the higher education body. The promotion system for financial and academic staff will be modified, ensuring its attractiveness for native academics, along with the development of a part-time system for native academics in state higher education institutions, along with other proposals.

Translated by Conor Fagan

Original article found here.

Army: 266 Syrians detained at Shalateen while attempting illegal immigration across the border

Spokesman for the Armed Forces, Tamir al-Rifa’i, said in a statement published Tuesday that border guards in the southern military district had detained 266 Syrians who were attempting to illegally migrate across the border in the region of Shalateen.

Attempts by Egyptians and foreigners to illegally migrate via Egypt’s borders and coastline have increased recently, due to political persecution and rising unemployment levels in the Middle East.

The spokesman also stated in a post published on the official Facebook page that border guards in the second field army had destroyed 12 tunnels along the border in northern Sinai.

The armed forces, in collaboration with the Ministry of the Interior have launched a security campaign across northern Sinai, aimed at arresting militants and destroying the tunnels which are used to target members of the army and the police.

Translated by Conor Fagan

Original article can be found here.

Maya Morsi: Rural women have the right to receive equal pay to men

Dr. Maya Morsi, president of the National Council for Women (Facebook)

Dr. Maya Morsi, president of the National Council for Women, has demanded equal wages for rural women, stressing that they play a vital role in rural development, agriculture, nutrition, and the reduction of poverty, and that they should be given more attention.

As cited by a statement of the Council on Monday, Dr Morsi made the remarks during a speech at the opening of the International Labour Organisation’s first academy for rural development in Luxor, saying that “the state must guarantee the rights of rural women to decent working conditions and the principle of equal pay, alongside quotas and targets for representation of rural women in decision-making positions, especially in parliament and administrative bodies at all levels.”

42% of working women in Egypt are employed in the agricultural sector, and of these 37% work with their family and do not receive a wage, according to statistics from the National Council for Women. Egyptian women working in the agricultural sector are also deprived of legal protection under Egyptian labour law no. 12/2003, despite 70% of agricultural work depending on women’s labour. Article 4, paragraph B of the law specifies the “exclusion of domestic workers, workers solely in agriculture, and the children of workers” from its protections.

Dr Morsi added that the number of beneficiaries of the village group savings and loans project has reached 9,000 women in 10 villages across 4 governorates. The village group savings and loans projects works to provide smalls loans to the families of these women, in order to empower them economically.

As for the results of the project, ‘One Village One Product,’ she said that the most important outcomes have been the establishment of a milk collection centre in Jafar village in Beni Suef, the training of 57 women in the manufacture, preparation, and packaging of vegetables, and the training of 52 women in managing small projects in the eastern governorate.

This all comes at the end of a 17 day campaign to empower rural women, launched by the Council at the beginning of October. It aimed to enable women to develop their communities, recognise innovative ways to take advantage of their resources, and to open marketing and sale channels for their products, to connect their voices with society.

The campaign included a video on the Council’s Facebook page, entitled ‘A Woman’s Message from Rural Egypt,’ which featured women from the countryside speaking about their lives and ambitions, and the greatest problems they face.

Maya Morsi also pointed out the efforts made by the National Council for Women in the field of economic empowerment, after it launched the “National ID Card programme,” which aims to assist and support all women without identity cards, in collaboration with the Ministry for the Interior, branches of the council across the governorates, civil organisations, and rural women’s leaders. She said that the Council had succeeded in supplying almost 3 million cards in the first phase of the project, from 2000 to 2015, and that it has issued over 600 thousand cards during the second phase, from June 2015 until now.

At the end of her speech, Dr Morsi gave a number of recommendations for the further integration of gender perspectives into all areas of rural affairs, such as the need for establishing gender departments in all ministries concerned with rural development. She stressed the need for the state to protect the rights of rural women, provide access to quality education for all girls and women in rural areas, and to make affordable health care services and facilities available to them.

Translated by Conor Fagan

View the original article here.

Egypt carries out air strikes on militant positions in Sinai

An Egyptian policeman gestures from a watch tower as seen from the Israeli side of the border with Egypt's Sinai peninsula, in Israel's Negev Desert

An Egyptian policeman gestures from an observation tower is seen from the Israeli side of the border with Egypt’s Sinai peninsula, in Israel’s Negev Desert February 10, 2016. REUTERS/Amir Cohen


The Egyptian army has announced that on Saturday, it carried out air strikes lasting three hours, targeting sites of militant groups loyal to the Islamic State (Daesh) in North Sinai governorate. The announcement came 24 hours after an attack which killed 12 soldiers, and for which the militants have claimed responsibility.

A statement issued by the General Command of the Armed Forces said, “In retaliation for the blood of the martyrs, a number of aerial formations took off at dawn on Saturday… to scout the target area and confirm coordinates, before the execution of targeted air strikes which lasted 3 hours.”

The statement added that the strike “resulted in the destruction of central and lodging areas for terrorist elements, as well as weapons and ammunition depots and the total destruction of seven SUV vehicles. A number of Takfiri elements who were carrying out criminal operations, along with their assistants, were also killed.”

A spokesman for the Egyptian military had reported yesterday that 12 soldiers and 15 militants were killed during a clash in Bir al-Abed in north Sinai, with injuries afflicting both sides. ‘Wilayah Sinai’ claimed responsibility for the attack, announcing that they had killed more than 20 military men and wounded others, as well as capturing weapons and ammunition and returning their fighters to safety.

Security sources also say that a recruit was killed today by a bullet to the head at a checkpoint south of Sheikh Zuweid, one of the three towns affected by the clashes in northern Sinai, along with Arish, capital of the governorate, and Rafah, located along the border with the Gaza Strip. A source reported that sniper fire was witnessed at the checkpoint.

The Egyptian Ministry of the Interior announced in a statement today that police had foiled two attempts to smuggle large quantities of weapons and ammunition into northern Sinai. The first was from a farm on the border between the eastern provinces and nearby Ismailia, and the second from a warehouse in Beni Suef, south of Cairo. The statement added that the police had confiscated hundreds of rifles and tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition, alongside arresting a number of people described in the statement as belonging to terrorist groups.

Translated by Conor Fagan

View the original article here.

She lived the Nakba decades later… and advises no one to migrate

Ramallah – – Ahmed Daraghmeh

Lena,* a Palestinian refugee, advises anyone considering crossing the Mediterranean as an illegal migrant against setting out on the journey. She does not hesitate to express her regret for embarking on the hazardous voyage, after living through moments of death in all its horrific details and suffering ordeals similar to the pains experienced by Palestinian refugees following the Nakba, as she made her way to Europe in search of a better life, which is still elusive two years after her arrival.

Twenty year old Lena’s life is just one more chapter in the long novel of Palestinian exile and alienation. Her family were forced out of Palestine in 1948 and driven to Lebanon, where they were again forced to depart, fleeing the civil war. Lena has now been settled in a building beside her twin sister in a refugee camp in Roskelda in Denmark, after leaving her sister and mother behind in Algeria.

Her father had been working in the Palestinian embassy in Algeria for almost four years when the Algerian authorities asked him to leave the country. He returned to Palestine, where his attempts to reunify the family in Gaza met with failure.

Lena was unable to find any work in Algeria, which suffers from high unemployment, and so she decided to migrate. In 2014, she headed to Libya, where she spent 25 days in a house with 200 other refugees, among them elderly people and children with faces full of tears. Everyone was afraid to leave the house as the smugglers had told them they ran the risk of being arrested by the Libyan police.

After 25 demoralising days, as described by Lena, the smugglers removed them from the house without any of their bags, due to the large number of migrants and the small size of the boat. Fifteen minutes after the launch of this “boat of death,” the engine failed, and they spent six hours adrift on the open sea, unable to return to the coast for fear of arrest.

Lena says that she and the other passengers had lost all hope, before the sound of another boat brought them back to life. It processed to tow them across the sea for twelve hours, and they were then transferred to a larger ship which conveyed them across the Mediterranean. It was as five days before Lena arrived at a refugee camp in the Danish capital. Her time there was very difficult, and ended with the camp’s closure, after which she was relocated to the camp in Roskelda.

Despite her successful crossing and safe arrival on terra firma, unlike the thousands of other refugees who have drowned in the sea or were returned to their countries, Lena describes her experience as “cruel and degrading,” and is certain that she would not embark on the crossing if she could go back and face the decision again.

Lena adds that even after her settlement in Denmark, “Europe is not a path strewn with roses, and adaptation to life there is not easy.”

After having experienced the long pain of asylum and the ravages of migration and exile, Lena was given a chance to train as a journalist with a paper belonging to the Red Cross. She now writes stories about refugees and their bitter experiences, but says, “I have accomplished nothing in the last two years, and I feel as though I have lost my future. I wanted to study veterinary medicine.”

She also adds, “The training has helped improve my English, and it fills up my time. I get to know a lot of the refugees and their tragic stories.”

For now, Lena works three days a week in a Red Cross headquarters, about an hour and a half’s journey from the camp in which she lives.

*A pseudonym

Translated by Conor Fagan 

View the original article here.

Hebron: Two men injured by live ammunition in Dura

Hebron – – Two young men were shot and injured with live ammunition Saturday, during confrontations with occupation forces which erupted in the Hanina area of Dura, south of Hebron.

Several sources report that Red Crescent ambulances transferred the two men to hospital in Hebron for treatment. One suffered a bullet to the abdomen while the other was shot in the shoulder.

According to Palestinian Red Crescent crews stationed at the site of the confrontations, on-site treatment was also provided to a number of civilians injured by rubber-coated bullets, along with dozens of others suffering the effects of tear gas inhalation.

Translated by Conor Fagan

View the original article here.

Jenin: Thousands mourn woman killed in Istanbul bombing

Jenin – Wafa – Thousands of mourners from the towns of Arraba and Kefr Ra’i, as well as neighbouring towns and villages southwest of Jenin, turned out yesterday to accompany the body of Nasreen Hashim Hammad Lahlouh (28), killed four days ago in the Atatürk airport bombings, to her final resting place in Arraba cemetery, after a funeral procession through her home town. The procession became a public march as crowds arrived from Arraba and neighbouring villages to mourn her passing.

After a gathering for friends of the deceased, crowds traveled the streets of Arraba with the body, swathed in a Palestinian flag, on their shoulders, angrily decrying acts of terrorism and the unjust killing of innocent people. Hashim Lahlouh, the father of the deceased, strongly condemned the attacks, saying: “These murderers have destroyed the lives of innocent people, including my daughter in the prime of her youth. They did not act in the name of Islam, and neither can anyone worthy of praise plan to commit atrocities such as that which happened at Atatürk.”

The deceased was the mother of a two year old daughter, and was married to a man from the Melham family of Kefr Ra’i. She had been living in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, working in a computing school, and at the time of her death was pursuing a doctoral degree in Turkey. 

Translated by Conor Fagan

View the original article here.

UN ratifies resolution to support a series of Sahara negotiations, Hespress (Morocco), 5 December 2014

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) ratified today, without a vote, on a resolution on the issue of the Moroccan Sahara. The resolution had been ratified last October by the Fourth Committee as the UNGA renewed the UN’s support for the a search to a negotiated political solution to the issue based on the standards of negotiations the UN Security Council (UNSC) set in 2007.UN ratifies resolution to support a series of Sahara negotiations

This resolution confirmed that the UNGA “supports the series of negotiations which began in accordance with Resolutions 1754 (2007), supported by Resolutions 1783 (2007), 1813 (2008), 1871 (2009), 1920 (2010), 1979 (2011), 2044 (2012), 2099 (2013) and 2152 (2014), issued by the UNSC in order to reach a political solution that is just, lasting and acceptable to all parties.” It also acknowledged the efforts made in this regard.

In particular, the resolution calls for countries of the region to fully cooperate with the efforts undertaken under the supervision of the UN and with each other in order to reach an acceptable political solution by all of the parties to the regional conflict over the Sahara.

The resolution also called on the parties to continue to show the political will and to operate in an atmosphere of dialogue in order to enter with good faith and without preconditions into a phase of even more intensive negotiations, taking into account the efforts made and developments that have occurred since 2006 in order to ensure the implementation of the aforementioned UNSC resolutions.

The UNGA supported the UNSC’s approach since ratifying Resolution 1754 (2007), in reference to Morocco’s provision of its autonomy initiative in the Sahara, which has garnered praise from the executive body and the entire international community as a serious and credible initiative to finally settle the regional conflict over the Sahara.

Through its support for the UNSC resolutions, including Resolution 2152 (April 2014), the UNGA has adopted the fixed norms determined by the UNSC to reach a final solution to this issue, which the resolution describes as a “disagreement.”

A number of observers confirmed that by ratifying this new resolution, the UNGA has joined the UNSC in its call for other parties, which remain in a locked in a rigged and extremist position, to express the necessary political will to contribute to reaching a consensual political solution under UN auspices.

Translated by Kevin Moore.

Access original article here.

Infographic: ISIS fighters proliferate in North Africa, Al-Wasat (Libya), 27 November 2014

Infographic: ISIS fighters proliferate in North Africa

The influence of ISIS is gradually expanding from its stronghold in the Syrian city of Raqqa to extremist groups which have taken North Africa as their headquarters.

Red: Areas of ISIS influence (estimate)

  1. Egypt: Ansar Beit al-Maqdis – formed in 2011, it is made up of 2,000 fighters; after announcing it joined ISIS in November, it is now known as Wilayat Sina’ (Sinai Province)
  2. Eastern Libya: Extremists in the coastal city of Derna – population 80,000 – announced their alliance with and allegiance to ISIS and the establishment of Wilayat Barqa (Cyrenaica Proince) in October
  3. Tripoli: Since August, the Libyan capital has fallen under the control of the Libya Dawn extremist militia, designated as a terrorist organisation; Mitiga International Airport is used as the centre for thousands of fighters from Europe and Africa seeking to join the fighters in Syria
  4. Tunisia: Birthplace of the Arab Spring, source of the largest number of foreign fighters joining ISIS and al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra, estimated at about 3,000 fighters; the cause is believed to be their resentment with the political process in Tunisia
  5. Algeria: Extremist group Soldiers of the Caliphate in Algeria allied itself with ISIS in September after breaking off from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb
  6. Morocco: The terrorist organisation affiliated with al-Qaeda calling itself Salafiyya Jihadiyya may have influenced the recent announcement of loyalty to ISIS by Moroccan fighters in Syria

Translated by Kevin Moore.

In Damascus / في دمسق

Inspired by this hauntingly beautiful video by Waref Abu Quba, I’ve taken it upon myself to translate the full poem by the brilliant Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish.


In Damascus
The doves fly
Behind the silk fence
Two by two.

في دمشق :
تطير الحمامات
خلف سياج الحرير
اثنتين اثنتين

In Damascus
I see my entire language
On a grain of wheat, written by a woman’s needle
Revised by the Mesopotamian partridge.

في دمشق :
أرى لغتي كلها على حبة القمح مكتوبة
بإبرة أنثى
ينقحها حجلُ الرافدين

In Damascus
The names of Arabian horses have been embroidered in gold threads
Since the age of Jahiliyyah
Until judgement day or beyond.

في دمشق :
تطرز أسماء خيل العرب
من الجاهلية حتى القيامة أو بعدها
بخيوط الذهب

In Damascus
The sky walks on the ancient streets
Barefoot, barefoot
So what need does the poet have for inspiration, metre and rhyme?

في دمشق :
تسير السماء على الطرقات القديمة
حافية حافية
فما حاجة الشعراء إلى الوحي والوزن والقافية ؟

In Damascus
The stranger sleeps in his shadow
Standing like a minaret in the bed of eternity
Not longing for anyone or any place.

في دمشق :
ينام الغريب على ظله واقفا
مثل مئذنة في سرير الابد
لا يحن إلى بلدٍ أو أحد

In Damascus
The present tense continues its Umayyad works
And we walk toward our tomorrow, confident of the sun in our past
We and eternity are the residents of this land.

في دمشق :
يواصل فعل المضارع أشغاله الأموية
نمشي الى غدنا واثقين من الشمس في أمسنا
نحن و الأبدية سكان هذ البلد

Umayyad Mosque - Damascus

In Damascus
Dialogues  between the violin and the oud revolve around
Existentialism and the endings
Whoever kills her passing lover, attains the Lote Tree of heaven.

في دمشق :
تدور الحوارات بين الكمنجة و العود
حول سؤال الوجود وحول النهايات
من قتلت عاشقا مارقا فلها سدرة المنتهى

In Damascus
Yousef tears apart his ribs with a flute for no reason other than that his heart was not with him.

في دمشق :
يقطع يوسف بالناي أضلعه لا لشيء سوى أنه لم يجد قلبه معه

In Damascus
Speech returns to its origins – water
Poetry is not poetry, and prose is not prose
And you say I will not leave you
So take me to you and take me with you.

في دمشق :
يعود الكلام الى أصله الماء
لا الشعر شعر ولا النثر نثر
وانتِ تقولين : لن أدعك
فخذني إليك وخذني معك

In Damascus
A gazelle sleeps beside a woman in a bed of dew
And takes off her dress to cover Barada with it.

في دمشق :
ينام غزال الى جانب امرأة في سرير الندى
فتخلع فستانها وتغطى به بردى

In Damascus
A bird picks at what remains of wheat in my hand
And leaves me a single grain to show me my tomorrow, tomorrow.

في دمشق :
تنقر عصفورة ما تركت من القمح فوق يدي
وتترك لي حبة لتريني غدا غدي

In Damascus
The jasmine flirts with me and does not stray
Following in my path
So the garden becomes jealous and does not approach the blood of night in my moon.

في دمشق :
تداعبني الياسمينة : لا تبتعد
وامشِ في أثري
فتغار الحديقة من دم الليل في قمري

Barada River - Damascus

In Damascus
I spend the evening in lighthearted conversation with my trivial dream and laugh at the almond blossom
Be realistic, so that I may blossom again around the water of her name
Be realistic, so that I may pass through her dream.

في دمشق :
أسامر حلمي الخفيف على زهر اللوز يضحك
كن واقعيا لأزهر ثانية حول ماء اسمها
وكن واقعيا لأعبر في حلمها

In Damascus
I introduce myself to her
Here under two almond eyes we fly together as twins
And postpone our shared past.

في دمشق :
أعرف نفسي على نفسها
ههنا , تحت عينين لوزيتين نطير معا توأمين
ونرجئ ماضينا المشترك

In Damascus
Speech softens and I hear the sound of blood in the flashes of marble
Wrest me away from my son, the female prisoner says to me
Or turn to stone with me.

في دمشق :
يرق الكلام فأسمع صوت دمٍ في عروق الرخام
اختطفني من ابني تقول السجينة لي
أو تحجر معي

In Damascus
I count my ribs and return my heart to its amble
Perhaps the one that admitted me to her shadow killed me
And I did not notice.

في دمشق :
أعد ضلوعي وأرجع قلبي إلى خببه
لعل التي ادخلتني إلى ظلها قتلتني
ولم انتبه

In Damascus
The stranger returns her howdah to the caravan
I will not return to my tent, I will not hang my guitar
After this evening on the family fig tree.

في دمشق :
تعيد الغريبة هودجها إلى القافلة
لن أعود إلى خيمتي uولن أعلق جيتارتي
بعد هذا المساء على تينة العائلة

In Damascus
Poems are translucent
Neither silver nor gold
They are what they echo says in order to echo.

في دمشق :
تشف القصائد
لا هي حسية ولا هي ذهنية
إنها ما يقول الصدى للصدى

In Damascus
The cloud dries up in the afternoon, then digs a well
For the summer of lovers at the foot of Mount Qasioun
And the flute completes its habits
Longing for the present
And cries in vain.

في دمشق :
تجف السحابة عصرا فتحفر بئرا
لصيف المحبين في سفح قاسيون
والناي يكمل عاداته
في الحنين إلى ما هو الآن فيه
ويبكي سدى

In Damascus
I write in a woman’s journal
All that is in you of Narcissus desires you
And no fence around you protects you from your night’s excess appeal.

في دمشق :
أدون في دفتر امرأة
كل ما فيكِ من نرجسٍ يشتهيكِ
ولا سور حولكِ يحميكِ من ليل فتنتك الزائدة

In Damascus
I see how the Damascus night diminishes
Slowly, slowly
And how our goddesses increase, one by one.

في دمشق :
أرى كيف ينقص ليل دمشق رويدا رويدا
وكيف تزيد الهاتنا واحدة

In Damascus
The traveler sings silently to himself and I return from Syria
Neither dead, nor alive
But as clouds easing the butterfly’s burden
From my fugitive soul.

في دمشق :
يغني المسافر في سره ولا أعود من الشام حيا ولا ميتا
بل سحابا يخفف عبء الفراشة
عن روحي الشاردة

Translated by Kevin Moore.