Conditions in Egypt and Arab world reach a state of crisis

Egypt has reached a state in which its citizens have lost hope for change, sociologists warned. They blamed unemployment, poverty, the spread of disease, high prices, and the deterioration of conditions.

Due to these pressures and the insensitivity of senior officials, whose statements are inconsistent with reality, the period is characterized by tension, frustration and stress, said Azza Karim, a sociology professor at the National Center for Social and Criminological Research.

She added that mass murders and violent acts in Egypt result from the spread of corruption, frustration, poverty, high prices and injustice, as well as the lack of democracy or a sense of security.

Basic needs are not provided for, and frustration is growing daily, said Yusuf Ismail, head of the psychology department at Suez Canal University.

In the same context, Samya Khodeir Saleh, a sociology professor at Ain Shams University, said that violent acts and random shootings can be traced to a drop in cultural and intellectual levels. She also blamed the government for not allowing intellectuals to share in the development of the country and in problem solving.

An expert from the Arab Labor Organization (ALO), Amin Fares, revealed that one third of Arab laborers, mostly working in the informal sector under bad conditions, live below poverty level.

In the ALO's national symposium, which examined the role of the media in facing social problems, Fares said that nearly 43% of Egyptians live on the edge of poverty, that is, on US$2 per day. 3.1% live on less than US$1 per day.

In Algeria, 15.1 million live on US$2 per day and 2% on US$1. In Tunisia, 6.6% live on US$2, while 2% live on less than US$1. In Morocco, the percentage of people living on US$2 per day reached 14.3% and those who live on less than US$1 reached 2%, Fares added.

The symposium's motto was "Prevent the Tunisian and Algerian crises in other Arab countries."

Participants put the blame on Arab leaders and political powers. They attributed bad conditions to corruption, poor training and poor vocational rehabilitation services.

Fares pointed out that the percentage of two-dollar laborers stood at about 32.8% of the labor force. Nine percent of these live on less than $US1.25 per day. In north Africa, about 36.8% live on US$2 per day, and 9.8% on less than US$1.25.

Arab countries need to provide about 5 million jobs every year in order to alleviate the problem. Fares pointed out that foreign direct investment in the Arab world reached LE100 billion for last year, mostly in sectors that do not provide job opportunities for laborers, for example telecommunications, transport, oil, stock market and tourism.

Beside government efforts, if such investments are carried out in vital fields, they will provide nearly 3 million jobs. Laborers must be allowed to move freely between Arab countries and foreign laborers should be replaced by Arab ones, he said.

The ALO's General Director Ahmed Loqman said that Arab countries will face a daunting problem if they do not act quickly to reduce the unemployment rate to less than 7% by 2020.

He asserted that Arab countries will cooperate to reduce poverty by half, and will eradicate hunger and extreme poverty by 2020

In the same context, Labor Union Chairman Hussein Mogawer attributed the problem of unemployment to poor vocational rehabilitation and to laborers who consider some jobs inferior.

The Egyptian education system, which promotes the study of theory over practice, is a major factor behind the unemployment problem. Some Arab countries follow the same system, which proves incompatible with labor market needs. Arab countries have to the train labor force to meet the market's needs, said Mogawer, pointing out that the media has a major role in directing the ideas of the youth.

He pointed out that President Mubarak's  election platform promises 4.5 million job opportunities over 6 years.

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