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Ethiopian Diplomat Summoned to Egypt Over Nile Dam Remarks

The Egyptian foreign ministry “summoned the Ethiopian Charge d’Affaires in Cairo to explain comments by the spokesperson for the Ethiopian Ministry for Foreign Affairs regarding domestic Egyptian affairs,”

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The Egyptian foreign ministry has summoned Ethiopia’s top diplomat in Cairo concerning comments by an Addis Ababa official regarding the controversial Nile Dam.

The Egyptian foreign ministry “summoned the Ethiopian Charge d’Affaires in Cairo to explain comments by the spokesperson for the Ethiopian Ministry for Foreign Affairs regarding domestic Egyptian affairs,” it said late on Wednesday.

The issued statement did not however cite any specific comment, but followed a statement by the Ethiopian official on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), Africa’s largest hydroelectric project, which has in the past year, raised fears for vital water supplies downstream in Egypt and Sudan.

“They know the GERD won’t harm them, it’s a diversion from internal problems,” The Ethiopian ministry’s spokesman and a former ambassador to Egypt, Dina Mufti, said on Tuesday.

Mufti said that without this “distraction”, Egypt and Sudan would “have to deal with many local issues waiting to explode, especially up there [in Egypt]”.

The Egyptian foreign ministry in a new statement on Thursday, condemned what it called an “attack on the Egyptian state” and accused Addis Ababa of using an “aggressive tone … to hide the multiple failures of Ethiopia at home and abroad”.

“It would have been better for the spokesman to pay attention to the deteriorating situation in his country, which is witnessing multiple conflicts and humanitarian crises that have killed hundreds and displaced tens of thousands of innocent civilians,” it said.

On November 4, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered the military to confront the ruling party of the dissident northern region of Tigray. Thousands are feared to have died as a result of the fightings that followed.

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan have been in talks since 2011 but have been unable to reach a deal on filling the dam. The negotiations stalled since August.

The Nile, which is the longest river in the world at 6,000km (3,700 miles), is a lifeline supplying water and electricity to 10 countries.

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News

Libya Welcomes Dutch Ambassador to Tripoli

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The Libyan Interior Minister of the Government of National Accord (GNA), Fathi Bachagha, has welcomed the Dutch Ambassador to Libya, Lars Tomers, back to the Embassy in Tripoli.

Most diplomatic missions left Tripoli in 2014 due to the deteriorating security situation, but in recent years, many of them have resumed work again following the improvement of the situation.

“We will continue to cooperate together in the fight against corruption, terrorism and organised crime,” Mr Bachagha said in a tweet published after meeting Mr. Tomers.

During the meeting, which was held at the headquarters of the Ministry of Interior in Tripoli, Mr Bachagha and Tomers discussed the strengthening of bilateral cooperation in the areas of fighting organised crime, terrorism, money laundering, drugs and psychotropic substances, illegal immigration and other issues of common interest.

Earlier, Mr Tomers wrote in a tweet that he had “an open and fruitful discussion with Mr Bachagha regarding the strengthening of bilateral cooperation between Libya and the Netherlands in the fight against organised crime, corruption, terrorism and illegal immigration”.

He said he also reaffirmed his support for the UN Mission and the Libyan Forum for Political Dialogue.

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North Africa

South Sudan Detains Russia’s Pussy Riot Activist, Blogger over Drone Remote

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Four high-profile Russian tourists, including Pyotr Verzilov, spent an uncomfortable day in detention in the town of Kapoeta, South Sudan on Wednesday in a mix-up over a drone.

The other three are blogger Ilya Varlamov, his wife Lyubov, and lecturer Ivan Bogantsev.

The four Russians are in Africa on tourist visas.

Verzilov, a member of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot, and the others had been touring in Uganda, where Mr Varlamov’s drone was confiscated – but not its remote control, which remained in his luggage.

When their bags were searched at Kapoeta airport, where they were due to take a plane to South Sudan’s capital, Juba, security officials demanded to know the location of the drone when they found the remote.

According to Varlamov, a Russian household name with over 2 million YouTube subscribers, despite not locating the actual aircraft itself, the officers then accused the tourists of illegally flying it.

Varlamov claims it had already been confiscated when they were in Uganda.

“They decided that we flew a drone, although we didn’t, and in the end, they took us off the plane and detained us,” Varlamov said.

“We are now in some incomprehensible department. They tried to take our phones, but we didn’t give them.”

Most African countries have strict laws either banning or restricting the use of drones.

Attempts to explain that they didn’t have the drone fell on deaf ears, and the group were hauled off to a ramshackle room where they were placed under arrest.

Meanwhile, the group insisted on keeping their phones so they could contact their embassy and others for help – and tweeted and blogged about their day.

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Conservation News

Egypt’s Asmarat Alternative Housing to Receive Dozens of Families

Asmarat is receiving over 130 slum-dwelling families in fully-furnished buildings, offering succour to underprivileged women, children and the physically challenged.

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Over 130 families and former residents of Sayeda Aicha neighbourhoods have started arriving at Asmarat social housing due to fears of collapse of their buildings.  

Cairo municipal authority has marked 47 buildings for demolition and has bulldozed 31 buildings used sheltering 35 families.

Asmarat is offers alternative housing to slum dwellers. The current occupants of its fully-furnished buildings were formerly resident in shanties of Qaleat Al Kabsh, Al Mawardy, Ezbet Khair Allah, Mansheyet Nasser Maspero Triangle among others.

Head of Asmarat Municipal Authority Hassan al-Ghandour said its alternative housing project plans to collaborate with Orman Charity Organization to exempt widows, divorced women, and the disabled persons from paying LE3600 annual rent.

Ghandour explained that the neighborhood is of a great interest to the political leadership and that Cairo governor visits the place weekly. He added that the neighborhood is home to several factories that secure 1,400 jobs to women paying them LE3,500 as income salary and offering paid internships at LE1,000.

The third phase of the project also includes a football pitch, four multi-purpose playgrounds, two swimming pools, a social building, a garden for children, four nurseries, four health units, a car mark that can hold up to 1,000 cars. Also, a mosque, a church and an automatic bakery production line will be established.

Social Solidarity Minister Nevin Al-Qabbaj explained last year that 13.6 percent of Asmarat families have female breadwinners with one in every two family having more than four members most of whom have unstable and irregular jobs.

Egypt’s Minister of Finance Mohamed Ma’it said in July last year that the country plans to implement 100,000 housing units during fiscal year of 2020/2021, in addition to planning to complete 105,000 units in 2021/2022.

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