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Egypt

Egypt’s Street Children Still Waiting For Signs Of Arab Spring

Street children in Egypt are easy targets for both criminals and police. Neglected and abused, they are still waiting for the promises of the revolution to trickle their way.

Kirsti Itameri

CAIRO -- While various groups in Egypt have been clamoring to have their say and influence the future of their country, one group has remained as voiceless as ever: street children. The country's streets are home to an estimated 150,000 to 2 million children. Numbers vary widely depending on how the children are classified.

Besides navigating perils like crime, violence, rape, drugs and prostitution on a daily basis, the children are also regularly arrested. "The police have quotas of children to arrest, the same way they have quotas for tickets to give," said Alia Mossallam, who has researched the topic extensively for both UNICEF and Human Rights Watch.

NGOs like the Banati Foundation or Hope Village Society, an Egyptian NGO, help these children reintegrate into society. Unfortunately, these types of comprehensive services reach only a fraction of those who need them.

Street children are frequently recruited by baltageya, or thugs, to do their dirty work. But the police themselves are also accused of abusing the children. "One example is that the police appoint children to work as guides or spies to report on drug deals or thug congregations," said Soheer Wahid, a social worker at the Banati Foundation, an NGO that serves street girls. According to Alia Mossallam, they are threatened with rape if they don't comply.

Soheer Wahid noted that these practices are still being reported even after the uprising. Many street children participate in protests – sometimes on the side of the protesters, who provided food and camaraderie, and sometimes as paid pro-Mubarak agitators. Some spent time in Tahrir Square and are acutely aware of the possibility of change.

Ramadan, a soft-spoken boy who comes to a reception center in Sayeda Zeinab run by Hope Village Society, says he has been arrested four times so far, both before and after the revolution, for playing in the street.

"Right when the guy said ‘I'll take you home" he took us to jail," he said. "When I walked in the door the officer hit me without asking any questions or saying anything."

Alia Mossallam describes the revolution as a "grand opportunity," noting that it's useless to work with the kids and NGOs when you can't change the practices of the Ministry of Interior.

"It is a social responsibility, not just a responsibility of the government and NGOs," says said Abla El-Badry, secretary general of Hope Village Society. "We need to think of these children as a part of the community."

Read the original article in full at Al-Masry Al-Youm

Photo - Adam Jones, Ph.D.

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Economy

In Uganda, Having A "Rolex" Is About Not Going Hungry

Experts fear the higher food prices resulting from the conflict in Ukraine could jeopardize the health of many Ugandans. Take a look at this ritzy-named simple dish.

Zziwa Fred, a street vendor who runs two fast-food businesses in central Uganda, rolls a freshly prepared chapati known as a Rolex.

Nakisanze Segawa

WAKISO — Godfrey Kizito takes a break from his busy shoe repair shop every day so he can enjoy his favorite snack, a vegetable and egg omelet rolled in a freshly prepared chapati known as a Rolex. But for the past few weeks, this daily ritual has given him neither the satisfaction nor the sustenance he is used to consuming. Kizito says this much-needed staple has shrunk in size.

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Most streets and markets in Uganda have at least one vendor firing up a hot plate ready to cook the Rolex, short for rolled eggs — which usually comes with tomatoes, cabbage and onion and is priced anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 Ugandan shillings (28 to 57 cents). Street vendor Farouk Kiyaga says many of his customers share Kizito’s disappointment over the dwindling size of Uganda’s most popular street food, but Kiyaga is struggling with the rising cost of wheat and cooking oil.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has halted exports out of the two countries, which account for about 26% of wheat exports globally and about 80% of the world’s exports of sunflower oil, pushing prices to an all-time high, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, a United Nations agency. Not only oil and wheat are affected. Prices of the most consumed foods worldwide, such as meat, grains and dairy products, hit their highest levels ever in March, making a nutritious meal even harder to buy for those who already struggle to feed themselves and their families. The U.N. organization warns the conflict could lead to as many as 13.1 million more people going hungry between 2022 and 2026.

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