UAE, Egypt to boost cooperation in higher education, scientific research – Arab News

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CAIRO: Sheikh Ammar bin Nasser Al-Mualla, UAE attache of education and technology sciences in Egypt, met with Mohamed Ayman Ashour, Egyptian minister of higher education and scientific research, to discuss ways to strengthen bilateral cooperation in higher education and scientific research.
During the meeting in Cairo, Ashour emphasized the breadth of UAE-Egypt ties at all levels, particularly in the domains of scientific, cultural, and educational cooperation, Emirates News Agency reported. 
Ashour also called for full support for Emirati students studying in Egyptian universities.
Al-Mualla lauded UAE-Egypt relations and highlighted Egypt’s leadership role in education, as well the UAE’s desire to expand its cooperation with Egypt in higher education.
MARWANIEH, Lebanon: Shortly before sunset on a recent evening, Mervat Reslan and a group of other women made french fries in vats of boiling oil to serve with that night’s iftar — the meal that breaks the daily fasts Muslims observe during the holy month of Ramadan.
They belong to roughly 60 families who have been sheltering at an abandoned hotel in the southern Lebanon town of Marwanieh to escape the shelling and airstrikes that have made it too dangerous to stay in their homes in the country’s border region with Israel. Although they’ve become a family of sorts to one another, many long to return home.
“Especially during Ramadan, you start thinking that your house is better — that you and your family all used to gather together, your children and their children, your in-laws and neighbors. And now you’re sitting by yourself in a room,” said Reslan.
Those living at the Hotel Montana, which went out of business in 2005, are among an estimated 90,000 people from southern Lebanon who have been displaced by the near-daily clashes between the militant group Hezbollah and Israeli forces. Another 60,000 Lebanese civilians have decided to stay in the border zone and risk the danger, according to a United Nations agency.
The border clashes began with a few Hezbollah rockets fired across the frontier on Oct. 8, the day after Hamas’ deadly incursion into southern Israel and Israel’s ensuing bombardment of the Gaza Strip. They quickly escalated to near-daily exchanges of rockets, shelling and airstrikes across the border and sometimes beyond.
Israeli strikes have killed more than 300 people in Lebanon. Most were militants from Hezbollah or allied groups, but more than 40 were civilians. Hezbollah strikes, meanwhile, have killed at least eight Israeli civilians and 11 soldiers, and displaced tens of thousands on that side of the border.
The cross-border attacks seem unlikely to end before a ceasefire is reached in Gaza — and possibly not even then. The prolonged state of limited conflict has left Lebanon, and particularly the displaced families, in limbo. School, work and farming in Lebanon’s border region have been put on hold. For a while, many hoped that a ceasefire would coincide with the start of Ramadan, but half of the holy month has passed without clear prospects for a solution.
Most of the displaced Lebanese have moved in with relatives or found shelter in vacant houses or rooms offered up by residents farther north. Those with the means have relocated to their second homes or rented apartments.
Shelters like the Hotel Montana are a last resort.
“A person can deal with 10, 15, 20 days, a month (of displacement), but we’re now entering the sixth month and it looks like it will go on longer,” said Ali Mattar, who heads the union of municipalities for the Sahel Al-Zahrani region, which includes Marwanieh.
The cash-strapped municipalities have been given much of the responsibility for dealing with the displacement, a task made more difficult by the four years of economic crisis the country has faced.
The Lebanese government has promised to compensate residents of the south whose homes have been damaged or destroyed. But the funding hasn’t been secured, said Maj. Gen. Mohammad Kheir, who heads the country’s Higher Relief Committee. A comprehensive survey hasn’t been conducted to assess how many houses are damaged, though it is “in the thousands,” he said.
Hezbollah has been providing monthly payments to many of the displaced families, an official with knowledge of the situation said. The official, who was not allowed to brief journalists and spoke on condition of anonymity, did not give a precise amount, saying it depends on a family’s size and needs.
Local and international nongovernmental organizations and religious charities have taken up much of the slack, but their resources are also strained. At the Hotel Montana, for instance, the Red Cross provides diesel to run a generator, but it can only be run for two hours in the morning and five in the evening because the supply is limited, said Salam Badreddine, who oversees disaster management for the union of municipalities.
The US and France, among other countries, have engaged in diplomatic missions to try to prevent the border conflict from escalating into full-scale war. But even if they succeed, some fear that a continuous state of low-level conflict could become the new normal.
“I think the risk of an all-out war still exists, and I would argue that it’s high,” said Emile Hokayem, director of regional security at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a London-based think tank. But there is also a potential for a long-term simmering conflict that would “exhaust” the struggling Lebanese economy and society, he said.
“What I worry about is this ability to rationalize levels of violence and adjust to them, and (to think that) as long as we’ve avoided the big one, we’re fine,” he said.
Reslan said her family was briefly displaced during the brutal monthlong war between Hezbollah and Israel in 2006, but this time feels different. Shelling has already damaged her family’s house, and she is afraid that the extended displacement will become permanent.
“We’re afraid — not of Israel but that we won’t return to our houses and villages. That’s the only thing we’re afraid of,” she said.
Mohammed Issa, a construction worker and farmer, fled the village of Aitaroun with his wife and three children on Oct. 8, when shells began falling next to his house. They stayed for two months with another family before moving to the Hotel Montana. Now he’s counting the days until they can go home.
“If there’s a ceasefire, we’ll be on the highway and at our house within an hour,” he said.
When displaced families do finally return home, they could face the grim reality of damaged homes, burned fields and a lack of resources to help, said Jasmin Lilian Diab, director of the Institute for Migration Studies at the Lebanese American University.
“It is not so much a conversation of whether or not they will eventually be able to go back, but what are they going back to,” she said.
BEIRUT: The US-backed force that defeated the Daesh group in Syria five years ago warned Saturday that the extremists still pose grave dangers throughout the world and called on the international community to find solutions for thousands of fighters still held in its jails.
The statement by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces to mark the fifth anniversary since Daesh lost the last sliver of its self-declared caliphate came hours after the group claimed responsibility for Friday’s attack in Moscow that left 133 people dead.
On March 23, 2019, SDF fighters captured the eastern Syrian village of Baghouz marking the end of the extremist group’s caliphate that was carved out of large parts of Syria and Iraq. During its rule, Daesh brutalized millions of people and attracted thousands of men and women from around the world to join it ranks.
“The liberation of Baghouz marked a pivotal moment. Our forces freed millions from the organization’s terror, safeguarding not only our region but the world from its barbarity,” the SDF said.
Despite its defeat, Daesh sleeper cells and its affiliates in Asia and Africa still claim deadly attacks as well as in Syria and neighboring Iraq where the extremists were defeated in 2017.
“The terrorist organization still poses a great danger to our regions and the world,” the SDF said, adding that “it seeks to rebuild itself through its sleeper cells and tries to revive its dreams of regaining geographical control over some areas.”
The SDF said that in order to completely eradicate Daesh it must dismantle “its ideological breeding ground.”
The SDF is holding some 10,000 captured Daesh fighters in northeast Syria in around two dozen detention facilities — including 2,000 foreigners whose home countries have refused to repatriate them. US-backed Kurdish fighters also oversee some 45,000 family members of Daesh fighters, mostly women and children in the sprawling Al-Hol camp. The camp once had a population of 73,000 but dropped as some countries have been repatriating their citizens.
Many of the women and children remain die-hard Daesh supporters, and the camp has seen bouts of militant violence. In February, the SDF concluded a dayslong security operation at Al-Hol during which they detained 85 people, captured weapons and freed a Yazidi woman who was raped and forced to marry Daesh fighters.
“The issue of Daesh detainees requires a global solution,” the SDF said, using a term to refer to Daesh. It added that their home countries should repatriate their nationals, or an international court established in northeast Syria where they can stand trial.
The SDF said that ending the case of Daesh families at Al-Hol camp “is a priority that cannot be overlooked or ignored, as the camp is still a ticking time bomb.”
“Concerns are growing about the children of Daesh who are receiving the organization’s teachings within this terrorist-infested environment,” it said.
“This in itself poses a threat to the future of the region and the world,” the SDF said.
CAIRO: The UN’s migration agency expressed alarm Friday over the discovery of a mass grave containing the bodies of at least 65 migrants in the deserts of western Libya.
Earlier this week, Libya’s criminal investigations authority reported the grave had been found in the Shuayrif region, 350 kilometers (220 miles) south of the capital, Tripoli.
On its Facebook page, it said 65 bodies of unidentified migrants had been unearthed from the grave, samples were taken for DNA testing and the bodies were reburied in a specified graveyard for later investigation.
The UN’s International Organization for Migration said the nationalities of the discovered migrants and the circumstances of their deaths was not known, but that they likely died while being smuggled through the desert.
Libya is a major route for migrants making their way from other parts of Africa and intending to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. Human traffickers have benefited from the political chaos in Libya to smuggle migrants across its long, desert borders, often a deadly route. Once at the coast, migrants are crowded onto ill-equipped vessels, including rubber boats, and set off on risky sea voyages.
According to the IOM’s Missing Migrants Project, at least 962 migrants were reported dead and 1,563 missing off Libya in 2023. Those who are intercepted and returned to Libya are held in government-run detention centers rife with abuses, including forced labor, beatings, rapes and torture.
The latest deaths show the need for a coordinated response to migrants and smuggling, including “regular pathways that provide opportunities for legal migration” and greater efforts by governments all along the routes to ensure migrants’ safety, the IOM said.
JERUSALEM: A top Israeli commander has said troops will continue their operation at Gaza’s largest hospital Al-Shifa until the last militant is “in their hands.”
Israeli forces launched the operation in and around Al-Shifa hospital on Monday, saying senior Hamas operatives were based at the sprawling compound.
Days of heavy fighting have followed, with the military reporting about 170 Palestinian militants killed and hundreds more arrested or questioned.
“We are continuing with this operation,” Southern Command chief Major General Yaron Finkelman said in comments released on Saturday.
“We will finish this operation only when the last terrorist is in our hands — alive or dead,” he added, following a Friday visit to Shifa.
The military said the sick and wounded at the complex in Gaza City had been moved to a “designated compound” in the hospital.
In video footage released by the army, soldiers unload supplies at the hospital and assemble what appears to be a hospital ward with a row of beds and IV stands.
About two tons of food and three tons of water were brought in, along with the medical equipment, the army said.

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