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Egypt's Shoukry discusses humanitarian issues with UN, ICG officials in New York

The Egyptian foreign minister, who is in New York for the 72nd United Nations General Assembly, held meetings on improving humanitarian response and conflict resolution in the Middle East and Africa

Ahram Online , Sunday 17 Sep 2017
Shoukry and Lowcock
Sameh Shoukry and Mark Lowcock (photo: Egyptian Foreign Ministry facebook page)
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Egypt's Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry held talks on Saturday with senior figures from the United Nations and the International Crisis Group (ICG), discussing deteriorating humanitarian conditions in the Midle East and ways of reducing human suffering, ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid said via Facebook.

Shoukry met in New York with the UN's top official on humanitarian assistance and aid coordination, Mark Lowcock, as well as Jean-Marie Guéhenno, president of the ICG, a non-profit organization that seeks to prevent and resolve international crises.

The meetings took place at the start of Shoukry's visit to attend the 72nd UN General Assembly, where he will take part in the high-level debate starting on Tuesday. The debate will focus on the theme “Focusing on People: Striving for Peace and a Decent Life for All on a Sustainable Planet.”

The minister is also scheduled to attend a high-level meeting on combating online terrorism; a series of ministerial meetings on the Middle East, Syria, South Sudan and central Africa, as well as meetings of the Group of 77 (G-77) and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

Shoukry and Lowcock discussed living conditions in Gaza, and the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen, highlighting the need to boost aid efforts for the Yemeni people, who are facing an unprecedented crisis.

More than 8,000 people have been killed, including at least 1,500 children, and millions displaced in the Yemeni conflict, which has pushed the impoverished country to the brink of famine, according to AFP.

The UN official praised Egyptian efforts in the field of humanitarian aid, and his hopes of further cooperation in that field.

Shoukry expressed his sorrow at the inability of the international community to effectively combat the ongoing dangers of starvation and drought in Africa, the statement added.

Lowcock spoke of his vision for developing the international system of humanitarian work, highlighting the need to fill the gap between needs and the available resources, as well as pushing organizations in the field to fulfill their commitments, Abu Zeid said.

The meeting between Shoukry and Lowcock also addressed UN efforts to consolidate responses to armed conflicts and natural catastrophes.

Guéhenno and Shoukry, meanwhile, focused on the Libyan crisis, with Shoukry pointing out that "the deteriorating security situation in Libya has a direct impact on Egypt’s stability, stressing the need to work on confronting the phenomenon of terrorism in all its forms in Libya."

Shoukry also emphasized the need for a political process to resolve the Libyan crisis, highlighting recent Egyptian efforts to bring the various Libyan parties together, the ministry statement said.

Egypt plays a significant role in negotiations to end the Libyan conflict within the framework of the 2015 Sakhirat agreement.

After the ousting of long-time Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, the country slid into a civil war that divided the nation, with rival governments and parliaments now in the west and east.

The two men also addressed the situations in Yemen, Iraq and Syria, focusing on the need for a solution to the Yemen crisis. Among the key topics relating to Iraq and Syria was the outcome of the Kurdish referendum scheduled for September 25.

The council in Iraqi's Kirkuk, an ethnically mixed region under Baghdad's control, voted last week to take part in an Iraqi Kurdistan independence referendum, a move the Iraqi central government denounced as illegal and unconstitutional.

Egypt's president Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi arrived in New York on Sunday to attend the 72nd session of the UNGA, where he is also expected to meet US president Donald Trump.

El-Sisi is set to address the gathering with comments on Middle East issues and counter-terrorism efforts, his spokesman Alaa Youssef said in a statement.

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