Germany to boost support for attack victims after criticism

© AFP/File | Twelve people were killed in the December 19, 2016 truck attack in BerlinBERLIN - 13 December 2017: The German government said Wednesday it would ramp up support for relatives of victims of attacks, after facing accusations of insensitive handling of last year's Christmas market assault.Several relatives of the 12 people who were killed in the December 19, 2016, truck rampage in Berlin had vented their anger in a withering open letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel, accusing her of "political inaction" and of failing to reach out to the bereaved.In a report to the government on Wednesday on the handling of the aftermath of the attack, Kurt Beck, the official charged with the inquiry, listed a litany of shortcomings.Some relatives desperately searching for their loved ones were only told three days after the attack that their family member had perished even though they could have been given early warning through facial identification.Others were sent "bills for autopsies -- including warnings for late payment, I didn't want to believe it, but I had such a letter in hand," Beck told a press conference. "Such experiences should never be repeated," he said, adding that Germany "was not prepared" to deal with the aftermath of an attack.Justice Minister Heiko Maas acknowledged the problems and said the government wanted "to ensure that when something so terrible happens, that the relatives of victims are taken care of as well as possible. ""We have learnt from our mistakes," he said.- Centralised unit -Berlin will look at setting up a centralised unit that would take charge of relatives in such cases, providing them with psychological and logistical help rather than leaving them to run from hospital to hospital to find out if their loved ones have been hit.It also plans to increase financial help to victims, after Beck noted that the current sum of up to 10,000 euros ($11,700) is below the average aid provided by eight other countries including neighbouring France.Merkel, who has been criticised by grieving relatives for not personally presenting her condolences, will finally hold her first face-to-face meeting with the families on Monday.A day later, a memorial service will be held to commemorate the victims.The chancellor paid an unannounced visit late Tuesday to the Christmas market at Breitschiedplatz, where she laid a white rose at the site of the attack and spoke with stallholders, including one at whose stand two people were killed in the attack.She also exchanged a few words with another stallholder whose stand was completely destroyed, national news agency DPA reported.

Source:Egypt Today

December 13, 2017 12:56 UTC


Germany to boost support for attack victims after criticism

© AFP/File | Twelve people were killed in the December 19, 2016 truck attack in BerlinBERLIN - 13 December 2017: The German government said Wednesday it would ramp up support for relatives of victims of attacks, after facing accusations of insensitive handling of last year's Christmas market assault.Several relatives of the 12 people who were killed in the December 19, 2016, truck rampage in Berlin had vented their anger in a withering open letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel, accusing her of "political inaction" and of failing to reach out to the bereaved.In a report to the government on Wednesday on the handling of the aftermath of the attack, Kurt Beck, the official charged with the inquiry, listed a litany of shortcomings.Some relatives desperately searching for their loved ones were only told three days after the attack that their family member had perished even though they could have been given early warning through facial identification.Others were sent "bills for autopsies -- including warnings for late payment, I didn't want to believe it, but I had such a letter in hand," Beck told a press conference. "Such experiences should never be repeated," he said, adding that Germany "was not prepared" to deal with the aftermath of an attack.Justice Minister Heiko Maas acknowledged the problems and said the government wanted "to ensure that when something so terrible happens, that the relatives of victims are taken care of as well as possible. ""We have learnt from our mistakes," he said.- Centralised unit -Berlin will look at setting up a centralised unit that would take charge of relatives in such cases, providing them with psychological and logistical help rather than leaving them to run from hospital to hospital to find out if their loved ones have been hit.It also plans to increase financial help to victims, after Beck noted that the current sum of up to 10,000 euros ($11,700) is below the average aid provided by eight other countries including neighbouring France.Merkel, who has been criticised by grieving relatives for not personally presenting her condolences, will finally hold her first face-to-face meeting with the families on Monday.A day later, a memorial service will be held to commemorate the victims.The chancellor paid an unannounced visit late Tuesday to the Christmas market at Breitschiedplatz, where she laid a white rose at the site of the attack and spoke with stallholders, including one at whose stand two people were killed in the attack.She also exchanged a few words with another stallholder whose stand was completely destroyed, national news agency DPA reported.

Source:Egypt Today

December 13, 2017 12:56 UTC


Survivors of collapsed buildings receive urgent assistance

FILE -Minister of Social Solidarity Ghada WalyCAIRO - 13 December 2017: Minister of Social Solidarity Ghada Waly directed the ministry to provide the necessary assistance to the survivors of the collapsed buildings in Rawd El-Farag, as a quick response, on Tuesday. "A relief committee was immediately set up to follow up on the efforts to evacuate the survivors and extract the injured; 41 survivors are now being housed," Waly confirmed in a statement.Also, several NGOS in cooperation with Cairo Directorate will provide meals to the survivors, in addition to a LE 100 compensation for each survivor.The social solidarity foundation provided 41 blankets and 30 mattresses which were delivered to the affected families to cope with the winter cold.The collapsed buildings resulted in two deaths and four injuries. As a five storey building first collapsed, incurring the total collapse of a three storey building, and the partial collapse of another three storey building.The two dead people are a 45-year-old woman, and a five-year-old child.Illegal and old buildings that must be demolished, and whose residents refuse to leave, are common in Egypt.The latest incident was in May, when a 12-storey building in Al-Azarita, an Alexandrian neighborhood, leaned over another building due to structural damage. Nineteen families were evacuated from both buildings and no injuries or deaths have been reported.

Source:Egypt Today

December 13, 2017 11:48 UTC


Germany's SPD plays hard-to-get before first talks with Merkel

Chancellor Angela Merkel attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, December 13, 2017. REUTERS/Axel SchmidtBERLIN– 13 December 2017: Germany’s Social Democrats said on Wednesday they would share power with Angela Merkel’s conservatives only if ordinary voters get a fairer deal, seeking to reassure party skeptics hours before highly-sensitive talks between the two camps.Merkel, weakened by heavy losses to the far-right in a September election and then by the collapse last month of talks on a three-way alliance, is pinning her hopes on the SPD for a fourth term as chancellor and to avoid new elections.But the mood between the two parties is sour and Merkel herself has been a frequent target of criticism by the Social Democrats.SPONSOREDThe SPD, stung by its worst election result since 1933 and riven by divisions on whether to work with Merkel after voters punished the party for sharing power with her over the last four years, warned a deal would not be made at any price.“A decisive point for the SPD is that the social agenda has more prominence in Germany,” leading Social Democrat Carsten Schneider told German television.“We are quite clear: There must be a greater degree of fairness for ordinary heroes,” he said.Merkel and the leader of her Bavarian conservative allies were due to meet SPD leader Martin Schulz later on Wednesday.The secrecy surrounding the talks underlined their sensitivity. With both sides having a lot to lose, the parties have not disclosed the time or venue for the meeting and do not plan to make public statements when it ends.Schulz has made a pitch for EU integration leading to a United States of Europe by 2025, and the SPD wants a big spending boost on education, more nursery spots and a big healthcare reform to help “ordinary people”.Merkel wants to maintain Germany’s solid finances, cut some taxes and expand the digital infrastructure.The SPD had vowed to go into opposition after its dismal election result and only softened its approach, agreeing to meet Merkel, due to pressure from President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who wants to avoid new elections.The SPD pulled no punches in attacking Merkel during the election campaign. Schulz has described Merkel, known for pragmatism rather than vision, as a vacuum cleaner of ideas and has also accused her of silencing debate on issues.A row last month over a conservative minister breaking protocol to back an extension for an EU license for a weed-killer despite SPD opposition hurt ties at a crucial time.One of the SPD’s deputies, Ralf Stegner, adopted a combative tone on Wednesday, saying nobody could dictate the terms to the SPD as the conservative bloc needed the party to rule.Some in the SPD are prepared to contemplate another grand coalition, albeit with a clear SPD signature, but others prefer the idea of tolerating a minority government under Merkel.One other option is a “KoKo” (cooperation coalition) agreement under which the SPD would agree to work with Merkel in some areas, such as a budget and European and foreign affairs, but force her to seek ad hoc majorities for other policies.This idea is unpopular with conservatives who want a grand coalition. “We have to try it - but please, seriously,” Carsten Linnemann, head of a group representing small and medium-sized businesses in the conservative bloc, told ARD television.

Source:Egypt Today

December 13, 2017 11:37 UTC


After Trump walks away, U.S. cities seek voice in migration talks

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel at the White House in Washington, U.S. December 6, 2017- ReutersWASHINGTON - 13 December 2017: More than a dozen U.S. cities have requested a role in global talks on responding to ever-larger waves of people on the move, days after U.S. President Donald Trump exited the process.The cities, led by New York and including Chicago, Washington and Atlanta, hope to take part in negotiations to agree the first international compacts on migration and refugees, due to be adopted by the end of next year.Last week, they joined more than 130 cities around the world seeking formal entry to the two sets of negotiations scheduled to start in February.“While our national government may decline to engage the international community on this urgent challenge, it is imperative that cities join the discussion,” Penny Abeywardena, New York City’s commissioner for international affairs, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.The U.S. government withdrew from the migration talks early in December, with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson noting the process “could undermine the sovereign right of the United States to enforce our immigration laws and secure our borders”.The United States has not pulled out of the compact on refugees.Bitta Mostofi, acting commissioner of the New York City Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs, said cities are tasked with providing support to all residents, from housing to healthcare and education.“Our first-hand experiences are essential to ensuring that international guidelines truly meet the needs of refugees and migrants,” said Mostofi.National U.S. leaders are becoming “increasingly isolationist, xenophobic and disconnected from cities’ values of inclusivity and growth”, she added.Trump has endorsed a plan that would see legal immigration to the United States cut in half. His administration has also said it will allow in 45,000 refugees this fiscal year, less than half of what was proposed under the previous president, Barack Obama.NORTH AMERICAN PUSHThe U.S. decision not to take part in the migration negotiations was made public on Dec. 3, as the international community gathered in Puerto Vallarta in Mexico for a key preparatory session ahead of next year’s talks.By mid-week, 14 U.S. cities and one county had signed onto a declaration presented by Montreal’s new mayor, Valérie Plante, on behalf of Metropolis, a cities’ network.All but one of the U.S. cities are not members of Metropolis but joined the petition after Tillerson’s announcement.The declaration urges national governments and international agencies to see cities as “partners” in defining and implementing global migration policy, and to give them “a seat at the table" in the discussions on the new pact.Government and U.N. officials, including the head of the U.N. refugee agency, have already indicated their openness to working more closely with cities.A separate letter was sent to U.N. refugee chief Filippo Grandi calling on him to allow cities to participate in a similar preparatory session for the refugees compact this week in Geneva.Many of the cities that want a voice in next year’s negotiations are among those most significantly affected by migration, which has been at record highs.They include Montreal and New York, according to an October report on 22 cities most affected by migration globally.Researchers with the World Economic Forum and consultancy PwC said those cities' most pressing concerns were to provide affordable housing, strengthen healthcare systems, offer education for different language speakers and attain "social cohesion" in the face of rising migration levels.PRESSURE ON SERVICESMayors say they are well placed to respond to these needs.Amman, for instance, which signed last week’s petition, has come under significant strain as Jordan last year hosted the world’s second-largest refugee influx compared with the size of its population.That has put major pressure on housing, water services, employment and even transport systems, according to the report. In response, the city is working on a new master plan for its eastern half.But with migration issues typically seen as the responsibility of national governments, cities warn they often lack the power and funds to respond comprehensively, or to capitalise on the potential boon in resources and productivity offered by migrants.Many are looking to the 2018 negotiations to fix that disconnect - but have yet to receive official assurance of their role.“When it comes to migration, local successes or failures can have a global impact,” said Marc-André Viau, spokesman for Montreal’s mayor.“So we must have a voice at the table to tell our side of the story in order to explain what kind of national policies and international agreements work and which ones don’t.”

Source:Egypt Today

December 13, 2017 11:03 UTC


Hike mountains around St. Catherine for amazing view

View of Mount Musa – Wikimedia.comMount Sinai is a mountain in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt Sept.12, 2013 –Wikimedia/Mohamed MousaSaint Catherine Mountain Oct. 15, 2008 – Wikimedia/joonas plaanSunrise at Mount Musa Aug. 25, 2014 – Wikimedia/AhmedHerzHiking Mount Sinai October 27, 2007 – Wikimedia/FlorianCAIRO – 12 December 2017: Take a birds eye view over Egypt to look down on the landscape and feel one with nature; this will only happen from the top of a mountain.Egypt is home to plenty of dusty trails, mountain tops and high summits to hike and see amazing views.Egypt’s highest mountain, located near the city of St. Catherine in South Sinai governorate. The mountain was named for the Christian Saint Catherine, who was martyred at the age of 18.It is 2,646 meters high and takes 4 to 6 hours to hike to the Chapel of Saint Catherine located at its summit. From the summit you can see the mountains of mainland Egypt and the Red Sea.This mountain is considered a holy site, mentioned many times in the Quran, Book of Exodus and other books of the Bible.According to Jewish, Christian and Islamic tradition, Mount Musa is the place where Moses received the Ten Commandments from God.It is classified as a rocky mountain, composed of different alkaline granite rocks, which indicates that the mountain originated from differing depths.The 2,285-meter-high mountain is surrounded by higher peaks on all sides. At its summit is a mosque that is still used today, along with a Greek Orthodox chapel.One of several mountains located close together, it stands above Wadi Jibal and Farsh Rummana. If climbed on a clear day, you can see El Tur and the Gulf of Suez.To reach Bab El Donya, take the usual route starting in the town of St. Catherine.

Source:Egypt Today

December 13, 2017 11:03 UTC


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