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Archive for the ‘United Land of Yemen’ Category

UN forced to cut aid to Yemen, even as virus increases need

June 01, 2020

CAIRO (AP) — Aid organizations are making an urgent plea for funding to shore up their operations in war-torn Yemen, saying they have already been forced to stop some of their work even as the coronavirus rips through the country.

Some 75% of U.N. programs in Yemen have had to shut their doors or reduce operations. The global body’s World Food Program had to cut rations in half and U.N.-funded health services were reduced in 189 out of 369 hospitals nationwide.

“It’s almost impossible to look a family in the face, to look them in the eyes and say, ‘I’m sorry but the food that you need in order to survive we have to cut in half,’” Lise Grande, resident U.N. coordinator for Yemen, told The Associated Press.

The dwindling funds are the result of several factors, but among the top reasons is obstruction by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who control the capital, Sanaa, and other territories. The United States, one of the largest donors, decreased its aid to Yemen earlier this year, citing interference by the Houthis.

It’s yet to be seen whether the Houthis will allow monitoring and oversight or give U.N. agencies the space to operate. A U.N. pledging conference for Yemen on Tuesday seeks $2.41 billion to cover essential activities from June to December.

Grande said the Houthis are working to become more transparent, and that she hopes this will encourage donor countries to give aid. Her optimism, however, comes as the Houthis face heavy criticism for suppressing information about the number of COVID-19 cases and fatalities in areas they control, while putting no mitigation measures in place.

Tuesday’s conference will be co-hosted for the first time by Saudi Arabia — a major player in Yemen’s civil war since it first unleashed a bombing campaign in 2015 to try to push back the Iranian-backed Houthis who had seized the northern half of the country.

Critics question the Saudis’ high-profile role in rallying humanitarian support even as they continue to wage a war — as do the Houthis — that has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Maysaa Shuja al-Deen, a Yemeni researcher and a non-resident fellow at the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies, said the kingdom is trying to repair its international image by changing the conversation.

Saudi Arabia “has always tried to change the narrative of the war and present itself as a backer of the legitimate government, not part of the conflict,” she said. In past years, the kingdom has been one of the top donors for U.N. humanitarian aid operations in Yemen. The Saudi ambassador to Yemen, Mohammed al-Jaber, said the kingdom will allocate half a billion dollars this year to support U.N. programs, including $25 million for a COVID-19 response plan.

The U.N. itself has also investigated allegations of corruption and diversion of aid in Yemen in its own ranks. Reports indicate that the coronavirus is spreading at an alarming rate throughout the country.

Among the slashed programs is financial support to thousands of health workers who haven’t received salaries from the government for nearly three years. Grande said that just a week before the first coronavirus case was announced in Yemen, aid agencies had to stop paying health workers.

Without salaries, medical staff won’t be able to provide health services to patients amid the pandemic. The U.N. received around $3.6 billion in 2019 in international donations for its campaign, short of its $4.2 billion goal. For its 2020 plan, it has so far received only 15% out of the needed $3.5 billion.

Yemen has been caught in a grinding war since 2014 when Houthi rebels descended from their northern enclave and took over Sanaa, forcing the internationally recognized president to flee. In the spring of 2015, a U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition began a destructive air campaign to dislodge the Houthis while imposing a land, sea and air embargo on Yemen.

The air war and fighting on the ground has killed more than 100,000 people, shut down or destroyed half of Yemen’s health facilities, and driven 4 million Yemenis from their homes. Cholera epidemics and severe malnutrition among children have led to thousands of additional deaths.

As the war enters its sixth year, with no sign of a viable cease-fire, the suffering looks set to continue. Fighting has continued unabated along several front lines in Yemen, including in Marib, an oil-rich eastern province, threatening new waves of displacement.

The U.N.’s massive aid program, totaling $8.35 billion since 2015, is vital to keeping many Yemenis alive. Ten million people are on the brink of famine and 80% of the 30 million population are in need of aid, according to the U.N.

With the coronavirus spreading, more money is needed. Since April, authorities in areas controlled by Yemen’s internationally recognized government reported 283 cases, including 85 deaths. The Houthis declared only four cases, including one death.

The World Health Organization believes that there is a significant underestimation of the outbreak, which could further hinder efforts to get supplies into Yemen that are needed to contain the virus. Richard Brennan, the WHO’s regional emergency director, told the AP that he believes the deaths are in the hundreds and cases in the thousands, based on what he’s heard from numerous health care providers. But he said the lack of funding means the organization’s health programs are hanging by a thread.

The International Rescue Committee, an aid group, said Yemen is conducting just 31 tests per one million people, among the world’s lowest scores. With increasing needs and fewer funds, the U.N. refugee agency will have to stop cash assistance and shelter programs for more than 50,000 displaced families by August, said spokeswoman Heba Kanso. She said the agency will be forced to end its partnership with dozens of Yemeni NGOs that will have let go more than 1,500 national staff.

Relief agencies worry that donors will give less as many countries struggle their own virus outbreaks. But they warn that the world’s worst humanitarian crisis can indeed get much worse. “The world’s attention is diverted elsewhere and these are the vulnerable among the most vulnerable on the planet, and we need a commitment,” said Brennan.

Bin Salman threatens to target women and children in Yemen despite international criticism

August 27, 2018

Saudi Arabia’s Mohammad Bin Salman has threatened to target women and children in Yemen with the Saudi-led Arab coalition despite international criticism, Al-Khaleej Online has reported.

According to an “informed source”, who asked not to be named, the Crown Prince issued his threat during a meeting with the coalition’s military commanders following the massacre in Hodeida earlier this month.

“Do not care about international criticism,” Bin Salman is alleged to have told his officers, a reference to the international condemnation of military operations against civilians in Yemen, particularly raids that kill women and children. “We want to leave a big impact on the consciousness of Yemeni generations. We want their children, women and even their men to shiver whenever the name of Saudi Arabia is mentioned.”

Bin Salman’s threats coincide with condemnation of the Saudi-led Arab coalition’s bombing of displaced civilians as they fled from the fighting in Hodeida province.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180827-bin-salman-threatens-to-target-women-and-children-in-yemen-despite-international-criticism/.

UN chief appoints Briton as Yemen envoy

February 16, 2018

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appointed former British diplomat Martin Griffiths as his new envoy charged with trying to broker peace in Yemen, the UN announced on Friday.

Guterres notified the UN Security Council of his intention to appoint Griffiths earlier this week and the 15-member council approved his choice on Thursday evening.

“Mr Griffiths brings extensive experience in conflict resolution, negotiation, mediation and humanitarian affairs,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Friday.

Griffiths, currently executive director of the European Institute of Peace, replaces Ould Cheikh Ahmed, who the UN said would step down after three years in the job when his current contract finishes this month.

A Saudi Arabia-led coalition intervened in Yemen’s civil war in 2015, backing government forces fighting Iran-allied Houthi rebels. Yemen, which relies heavily on imports for food, is on the brink of famine and nearly 1 million people have been infected with cholera.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180216-un-chief-appoints-briton-as-yemen-envoy/.

Saudi Arabia says it will reopen Yemen airports, seaports

November 13, 2017

CAIRO (AP) — Saudi Arabia said Monday that the Saudi-led coalition fighting Shiite rebels in Yemen will begin reopening airports and seaports in the Arab world’s poorest country, days after closing them over a rebel ballistic missile attack on Riyadh.

The announcement from the Saudi mission at the United Nations came after the coalition fighting Yemen’s rebels, known as Houthis, and their allies faced widespread international criticism over the closure, with the U.N. and over 20 aid groups saying it could bring millions of people closer to “starvation and death.”

“The first step in this process will be taken within 24 hours and involves reopening all the ports in areas controlled by” Yemen’s internationally recognized government, which the coalition backs, the mission’s statement said.

Those ports are in Aden, Mocha and Mukalla. For ports in rebel-held or disputed territories, like Hodeida, the mission said it had asked the U.N. to send a team of experts to discuss ways to make sure weapons can’t be smuggled in.

The Saudi-led coalition hopes that will prevent “the smuggling of weapons, ammunitions, missile parts and cash that are regularly being supplied by Iran and Iranian accomplices to the Houthi rebels,” the statement said.

Saudi Arabia announced it shut down all ports after a Nov. 4 ballistic missile attack on Riyadh near its international airport by the Houthis. Saudi Arabia and the United States have accused Iran of supplying the ballistic missile used in that attack, saying the missiles bore “Iranian markings.” The Houthis have denied that.

For its part, Iran long has denied offering any arms to Yemen, though it has backed the Houthis and highlighted the high civilian casualties from the Saudi-led coalition’s campaign of airstrikes.

Associated Press writer Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.

Qatari forces in anti-Houthi coalition return to Doha

07.06.2017

The move came days after the coalition terminated Qatar’s membership in the anti-Houthi bloc, which has been launching an air campaign against Houthi rebels, who overran Sanaa and other Yemeni provinces in 2014.

According to QNA, top army brass had welcomed the troops on Tuesday.

On Monday, five Arab countries – Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Yemen – cut ties with Qatar, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism.

Qatar denied the accusations, saying the move to cut ties with it was “unjustified” and aimed to impose guardianship on the Gulf country.

The new escalation came two weeks after the website of Qatar’s official news agency was allegedly hacked by unknown individuals who reportedly published statements falsely attributed to its emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani.

The incident triggered a diplomatic row between Qatar and its neighbors, the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Source: Anadolu Agency.

Link: http://aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/qatari-forces-in-anti-houthi-coalition-return-to-doha/836255.

Iran threatens Bahrain, Yemen with ‘Islamic conquest’ like Aleppo

December 17, 2016

A senior Iranian military commander has threatened further wars of conquest after describing the recent collapse of the Syrian opposition in Aleppo as an “Islamic conquest”, as footage has appeared showing Syrian refugees attempting to evacuate the ravaged city being shot at by Iran-backed Shia jihadists.

In comments to local Iranian media, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) General Hossein Salami said: “It is now time for the Islamic conquests. After the liberation of Aleppo, Bahrain’s hopes will be realized and Yemen will be happy with the defeat of the enemies of Islam.”

The IRGC commander also said that “the people of Mosul will taste the taste of victory,” in reference to the ongoing Mosul operations.

The taste of “victory”, however, tasted of blood and terror in Aleppo as the Middle East correspondent for BuzzFeed News tweeted footage of what pro-Assad regime Iranian proxies were doing there.

Borzou Daragahi tweeted “This is what hell on earth looks like,” as video footage from the devastated city shows “hungry, freezing men, women and children” who are trying to evacuate Aleppo are fired upon by the Shia jihadists.

This footage was supported by further reports and footage from Syrian journalist Rami Jarrah. Jarrah’s footage shows witnesses recounting their stories of how their convoy that was travelling with the Red Cross was waylaid by the Assad regime.

As the men in the video are talking, they and a vast convoy of cars come under attack by Assad regime, creating panic as people try to escape.

Iran’s ’empire’ and ‘Shia Liberation Army’

Salami’s comments are not the first to emerge from within influential and powerful Iranian official circles.

In March 2015, Presidential Adviser Ali Younesi said that the Iraqi capital of Baghdad was now a “capital of the Iranian empire,” inflaming the Arab world and especially Iraqis who have felt Iran’s pervading and dominating influence in their country.

Last November, Iranian army Chief of Staff General Mohammed Bagheri said that his country would in all likelihood set up military bases in Yemen, Syria and other Arab countries.

Speaking to the state-run Mashregh news agency in August, retired IRGC General Mohammad Ali Falaki said that Iran had created a “Shia Liberation Army” under the command of IRGC Qods Force commander Brigadier-General Qassem Soleimani.

According to Falaki, the Shia Liberation Army was already active on three “fronts” in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20161217-iran-threatens-bahrain-yemen-with-islamic-conquest-like-aleppo/.

Yemen army removes over 30,000 mines

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Yemeni army source said they removed 36,000 landmines which Houthi militias and forces loyal to deposed president Ali Abdullah Saleh had planted in the Marib province.

Brigadier General Sheikh Zayd Thabet, chief of the military engineering unit in the national army, told reporters that thousands of the mines they found date back to the era of World War II, in addition to other Russian and Iranian-made mines and locally-produced mines, adding that they have so far destroyed 6,500 mines.

A recent Yemeni human rights report said 47 civilians were killed in Marib while 98 others were injured by these mines.

Popular resistance sources had said Houthi militias and forces loyal to Saleh have planted more than 40,000 mines in different areas in Taiz since March 2015. Human Rights Watch said in a report that 23 people were killed and 56 others were injured in Taiz by these mines.

Official sources in al-Jawf province had said that the rebels planted more than 30,000 mines in the province.

Source: al-Arabiya English.

Link: http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2016/11/30/Yemeni-army-removes-over-30-000-landmines-in-Marib.html.

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