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    Several heads and officials of United Nations agencies in Egypt today took part in the opening of a seminar organized jointly by the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Faculty of Economics and Political Science (FEPS) at Cairo University on Egypt’s role and contributions to UN bodies and their activities. The two-day debate at the Faculty’s campus brought together prominent Egyptian diplomats and political science scholars.

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    In an introductory statement, the Dean of FEPS Dr. Hala Elsaid revealed that the Faculty will launch a research unit dedicated to the UN and peacekeeping, which will focus on academic research about peacekeeping issues and conflicts, and on how to activate the UN’s role in peacekeeping and conflict-resolution, and the role expected of Egypt in peacekeeping. The unit will be producing “policy papers that could help UN operatives in their work in Egypt.”

    The Secretary General of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Mounir Zahran, also addressed the audience. He raised several questions, which he urged the seminar to try to tackle. Among them, for example, was a question regarding the UN Charter’s fifth chapter on the Security Council that “had reflected the balance of power in 1945, but has changed over the past 71 years. Isn’t time to adjust this existing imbalance?,” he asked.

    The seminar’s agenda includes such items as Egypt’s contributions to international peace and security, and to dealing with issues of international law, the fight against terrorism and organized crime. They also include its inputs into UN development activities and the work of international specialized agencies, as well as its contributions to the UN’s programmatic budgets, its role in the face of global economic and environmental challenges and climate change, in addition to Egyptian nominations for positions with international organizations. 

    Distributed by APO on behalf of UN Information Centre in Cairo.

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  • Students Celebrate as School Meals Resume in Sudan’s Blue Nile State

    Following a more than five-year hiatus, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) resumed its school meals programme in Sudan’s Blue Nile State this week for more than 7,000 students in 21 schools.

    Insecurity and lack of access had forced WFP to suspend the programme in September 2011. Prior to this interruption, WFP had provided school meals to around 70,000 students throughout Blue Nile State.

    “I remember there were times when my sisters and I used to go home for breakfast in the middle of the school day,” said 15-year-old Ibrahim Ahmed, a student in Blue Nile State. “It is almost a one-hour walk from school to home, and we either ended up missing out on a lot by the time we got back to school, or we never went back because we were too tired to walk again.” Ibrahim was in second grade when WFP suspended the programme. Now in the seventh grade, he looks forward to eating meals again with his friends in school and not having to miss school.

    Providing school meals is WFP’s longest-running programme in Sudan. Since 1969, WFP has been assisting millions of schoolchildren through its school meals programme. The programme currently provides school meals to almost one million children in Sudan, more than half of whom come from displaced and other vulnerable families in the Darfur region.

    “I share the joy of children in Blue Nile who will now be having healthy meals, which we will provide in their schools. School meals not only prevent hunger among children during the school day, but they can also enhance nutrition and help improve school performance,” said WFP Sudan Representative and Country Director Matthew Hollingworth. “I am grateful to the Ministry of Education, parents, teachers, communities and the staff of our partner Mubadiroon who worked with us tirelessly in bringing this programme back to schools in Blue Nile.”

    School meals provide an emergency safety net to schoolchildren and help to ensure that children, particularly girls, receive the education to which they are entitled. In the eastern states of Kassala and Red Sea, WFP has been providing take-home rations to 5,000 schoolgirls in selected schools where girls’ enrolment is extremely low. As a result, the number of girls attending school is now close to that of boys.

    WFP, the Ministry of Education and the World Bank recently organised a workshop on Systems Approach for Better Education Results (SABER) for School Meals. SABER is a useful tool for assessing school meals programmes with the government and other stakeholders. The introduction of SABER is one of the key steps to the development of a national school meals policy and programme.

    Sudan is one of WFP’s most complex emergencies, with recurring conflict, new and protracted displacements, insecurity, and crisis levels of malnutrition and food insecurity. In 2016, WFP plans to assist 4.6 million vulnerable people in Sudan through a mix of activities, including emergency food and cash-based transfers, nutritional support and resilience-building activities to support communities to become self-reliant.

    Distributed by APO on behalf of World Food Programme (WFP).

    WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in 80 countries.

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  • “Implementation Science” Bolsters Egyptian Health Care

    Medical researchers from the Middle East and North Africa region are meeting in Cairo on December 5-7 to study “Implementation Science,” which is a field that brings evidence from biomedical and healthcare research into public health practice and policy.  Their goal is to improve public health by bridging the gap between optimal health practices and the realities of everyday practice. 

    The Implementation Science program is sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID); the U.S. National Cancer Institute; the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine; and the World Health Organization Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office.

    Ambassador Stephen Beecroft noted that sharing a deep understanding of scientific research principles and applying them to healthcare will benefit the Egyptian people.

    This meeting in Cairo is the culmination of a 4-month capacity building program that helps researchers develop skills to better analyze public health needs, such as cancer control and the prevention of non-communicable diseases.  Researchers are also learning to prepare stronger science proposals for future funding opportunities, such as the USAID PEER program that has so far awarded USD 50 million to over 200 research projects by scientists in developing countries.

    Distributed by APO on behalf of U.S. Embassy – Cairo.

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  • Commonwealth Secretary-General welcomes election results in The Gambia

    The Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland, has welcomed the election results in The Gambia. 

    She warmly commended the leadership and people of The Gambia for the profoundly significant and democratic transition they have initiated in their country.

    The Secretary-General said, “On 1 December, Gambians demonstrated Commonwealth values of peace, tolerance and respect for diversity and differing views, as they exercised their democratic franchise, and clearly and confidently charted their own path for the country’s future. We congratulate The Gambia for the example it has set.”

    The Secretary-General further remarked, “When The Gambia left the Commonwealth in 2013, heads of government, meeting in Colombo that year, noted this decision with regret, and looked forward to the country’s eventual return. Like every close knit family, our Commonwealth doors remain open.”

    Distributed by APO on behalf of Commonwealth Secretariat.

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  • Africa: The United States Commends The Gambia on Peaceful Election

    Press Statement 

    John Kerry 
    Secretary of State 
    Washington, DC
    December 3, 2016

    I congratulate the people of The Gambia for their peaceful and democratic presidential election on December 1. We also congratulate President-elect Adama Barrow on his historic victory, which will mark the first democratic transfer of power in the country, and we look forward to working with him as he helps to usher in a new era in The Gambia.

    I also commend President Jammeh for respecting the results and for agreeing to peacefully transfer power to the president-elect. We are grateful to the Independent Electoral Commission for its transparent and efficient management of the electoral process.

    We call for unity and calm during this transition period, and urge the Gambian government to respect the rights of citizens to freely assemble and express their views on the election results.
    The United States and The Gambia share long-standing ties and we look forward to working together to promote democracy and governance, respect for human rights, and economic and social development.

    Distributed by APO on behalf of U.S. Department of State.

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