When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Egypt

Widening Clampdown On Internet News In Egypt

The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology in Cairo in 2009.
The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology in Cairo in 2009.

CAIRO — The Egyptian government has blocked access to a total of 21 news and information websites since last Wednesday, including the original publisher of this article, Cairo-based Mada Masr. A security source cited by MENA, the country's official state news agency, said that the blocked websites were disseminating "content that supports terrorism and extremism and deliberately spreads lies."

These events are part of a longer and wider history of the state's attempt to control the Internet, a principal concern since the January 2011 revolution and one that has become apparent following the recent campaign of arrests made recently in connection with the administration of Facebook pages. The government is also currently preparing legislation to combat cyber crime.

Among the first wave of 17 websites that were blocked last Wednesday are two Egyptian outlets, Masr Al-Arabiya and the online edition of the weekly publication Al-Mesryoon. The list also includes some Qatari or Qatar-funded news outlets that support or are managed by the Muslim Brotherhood, principal among them Al Jazeera and Huffington Post Arabic, in addition to the official website for Palestinian political movement Hamas.

The Business News for Press, Publishing and Distribution Company, which owns both El-Borsa and DNE, issued a statement on Sunday that called the government shutdown "unjustified and with neither a notification nor explanation."

On Saturday and Sunday, the state extended the ban to financial newspapers Daily News Egypt (DNE) and El-Borsa. The list of blocked websites was also extended to secure internet browser Tor on Saturday. Business daily El-Borsa was printed and distributed on Sunday as usual. The English-language DNE website changed its domain in an attempt to bypass the blockage, but its new domain was subsequently blocked.

The Business News for Press, Publishing and Distribution Company, which owns both El-Borsa and DNE, issued a statement on Sunday that called the government shutdown "unjustified and with neither a notification nor explanation." The statement affirmed that the two newspapers "do not have any political or partisan or religious affiliations, nor do any of its employees, and have never been at any point a voice for any particular group, with the exception of the liberal editorial policy."

Head of the Journalists Syndicate Abdel Mohsen Salama told media outlets that he is preparing a memorandum to the higher council for media about the blockage of four Egyptian websites, two of which, Al-Mesryoon and El-Borsa issue print papers, and Mada Masr and Masr al-Arabiya.

The Egyptian government has not claimed responsibility for restricting access to the browser Tor, although it comes at the same time as the blocking of the news sites.

Tor allows users to improve security and privacy online and has been used to counter web blockages in other countries. The browser's website shows an increase in downloads from 1,300 to more than 2,000 in the four days following the blockages.

After the Turkish government blocked access to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter in November of last year, the number of Tor users increased from 18,000 to 25,000 in one day.

Mada Masr has received several reports of interrupted access to the website through the same service providers at different times from different geographical locations within Egypt. This indicates that the blockage is decentralized through service providers rather than a centralized operation by the state. These providers include Orange, Vodafone and TE Data.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

Society

In Northern Kenya, Where Climate Change Is Measured In Starving Children

The worst drought in 40 years, which has deepened from the effects of climate change, is hitting the young the hardest around the Horn of Africa. A close-up look at the victims, and attempts to save lives and limit lasting effects on an already fragile region in Kenya.

Photo of five mothers holding their malnourished children

At feeding time, nurses and aides encourage mothers to socialize their children and stimulate them to eat.

Georgina Gustin

KAKUMA — The words "Stabilization Ward" are painted in uneven black letters above the entrance, but everyone in this massive refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya, calls it ya maziwa: The place of milk.

Rescue workers and doctors, mothers and fathers, have carried hundreds of starving children through the doors of this one-room hospital wing, which is sometimes so crowded that babies and toddlers have to share beds. A pediatric unit is only a few steps away, but malnourished children don’t go there. They need special care, and even that doesn’t always save them.

In an office of the International Rescue Committee nearby, Vincent Opinya sits behind a desk with figures on dry-erase boards and a map of the camp on the walls around him. “We’ve lost 45 children this year due to malnutrition,” he says, juggling emergencies, phone calls, and texts. “We’re seeing a significant increase in malnutrition cases as a result of the drought — the worst we’ve faced in 40 years.”

From January to June, the ward experienced an 800 percent rise in admissions of children under 5 who needed treatment for malnourishment — a surge that aid groups blame mostly on a climate change-fueled drought that has turned the region into a parched barren.

Opinya, the nutrition manager for the IRC here, has had to rattle off these statistics many times, but the reality of the numbers is starting to crack his professional armor. “It’s a very sad situation,” he says, wearily. And he believes it will only get worse. A third year of drought is likely on the way.

More children may die. But millions will survive malnutrition and hunger only to live through a compromised future, researchers say. The longer-term health effects of this drought — weakened immune systems, developmental problems — will persist for a generation or more, with consequences that will cascade into communities and societies for decades.

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

The latest