Mixed feelings as Egypt's 100 millionth citizen is born

A press conference of Egypt's Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics is held in Cairo, Egypt, on Feb. 11, 2020. Egypt's Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics said on Tuesday that the population in the country has reached 100 million. Photo by Mohamed El Raai/Xinhua

MINYA, Egypt, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- Tuesday, Feb. 11 in Wasilah village located on the west bank of the Nile River, some 240 km south of the capital, Egypt's 100 millionth citizen was born.

The birth of the baby, a girl named Yasmine Rabei, was announced in Cairo by a giant counter outside the country's national statistics agency.

 

The father, a 22-year-old farmer, said: "the birth of my girl brought joy to the village."   His house was full of relatives, neighbors, TVs and journalists to celebrate the baby's birth.

 

"My child became famous when she first opened her eyes," Rabei told Xinhua.

 

Photos of Yasmine were published in newspapers and websites, the father said.

In villages, especially in Upper Egypt, people prefer to bring up many children to help fathers in agricultural work. Abdel Aziz, the 67-year-old grandfather and also a farmer, believed that "more kids mean more wealth."

The grandfather, who has seven children and 37 grandchildren, added he encourages Rabei to bring up at least five kids. However, Rabei, who didn't have the chance to go to school, said he planned only for getting two kids and wished to provide them with better health and education services.

The country is also gripped by worries that its overpopulation will increase the poverty and unemployment rates. On Feb. 5, the cabinet said it was on "high alert" to fight against population growth, which Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has described as a threat to national security.

At a conference in 2017, the president said: "We have two real challenges facing our country: terrorism and overpopulation." In 2019, Egypt launched a public health campaign called "two is enough" to convince parents to have fewer children.

The mother of Yasmine, Jihad Ahmad, a 19-year-old housewife, agreed with her husband to have only two kids. Ahmad added she will go to a clinic after 40 days of delivery to apply a contraception method, noting "we planned to have the second baby in three years."

Egypt's population is expected to reach 128 million by 2030, according to official statistics. Eman Raheem, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Al-Zahra Hospital in Cairo, said: "sometimes patients arrive here knowing absolutely nothing about contraception, so I have to explain all the different methods."

She called for starting an awareness campaign in schools to educate young kids about sex and the future of population explosion. A UN report released in 2019 stated that within the next 30 years, Egypt, along with seven other countries will significantly contribute to the global population's projected growth."

Two is enough" campaign that has been launched in collaboration with the UN seeks to raise awareness among Egyptian women regarding the importance of birth control and to provide contraceptive methods. 

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