Category: United Land of Yemen


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.

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/.

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.

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.

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/.

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.

Tue Nov 29, 2016

The formation of a new government by Yemen’s armed Houthi movement and its political allies will hinder peace efforts in the country, the U.N. special envoy to Yemen said on Tuesday.

The move, reported by the Houthi-run state news agency on Monday, has been seen as a blow to U.N.-backed efforts to end 20 months of war in Yemen.

“The announcement by (the Houthi) Ansar Allah and the General People’s Congress on the formation of a new government in Sana’a represents a new and concerning obstacle to the peace process and does not serve the interests of the people of Yemen in these difficult times,” Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said in a statement.

The unilateral declaration contradicted recent comments by the Houthis to the U.N. and to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, and only complicated the search for a peace deal, which needed to be based on U.N. talks, Ould Cheikh Ahmed said.

“There is still a chance to pull Yemen back from the brink,” he said, adding that all parties to the conflict should recommit to a cessation of hostilities, including a complete halt to ground and air military activities.

The formation of the new government was also condemned by the Gulf Cooperation Council, whose member Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition backing Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the internationally recognized president.

The coalition has carried out thousands of air strikes on the Houthis but failed to dislodge them from the capital Sanaa.

“The step of forming a government indicates the enormous importance of reinforcing our domestic position and serving the people, despite the difficult economic situation,” the Houthi group’s leader, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, said in a statement carried on the website of a Houthi-controlled news channel.

Diplomats had hoped the Houthis, who control Sanaa, would hold off on putting together a cabinet of their loyalists and instead form a unity government with their Yemeni foes, whom they pushed into Saudi exile.

The Houthis, who control territory with more than half of Yemen’s population, previously said forming a government with their allies did not mean abandoning the U.N.-sponsored peace process.

(Reporting by Tom Miles, Katie Paul and Ali Abdelatti; Editing by Ralph Boulton)

Source: Reuters.

Link: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security-un-idUSKBN13O2K1.

SANAA (BNO NEWS) — Tens of thousands of people protested across Yemen on Thursday to urge the international community to support their demands as tensions continue to escalate in the conflict-ridden country, according to media reports.

Anti-government protesters took to the streets of the Yemeni capital Sana’a and other provinces to send a message to the international community to support their demands of change, freedom and a civil state. The uprising against President Ali Abdullah Saleh has claimed at least 1,500 lives since February.

The United Nations is trying to persuade President Saleh to sign the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) brokered deal – which he refused to ink three times previously. Saleh has repeatedly said he is committed to the deal, though he has so far refused to sign it, the DPA news agency reported.

The GCC-proposed plan includes guarantees that Saleh will not be prosecuted after his resignation within 30 days from the acceptance date. It also calls to hold presidential elections within two months from the date of Saleh’s departure as well as the establishment of a new government within 90 days.

Tensions have further escalated since Saleh returned to Yemen after spending more than three months in Saudi Arabia to recover from injuries he sustained in a rocket attack which hit the mosque of the presidential palace in Sanaa on June 3. On Saturday, Saleh said he is planning to leave power ‘in the coming days’, although a ruling party official immediately said that Saleh has no intention to leave.

(Copyright 2011 by BNO News B.V. All rights reserved.)

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Source: WireUpdate (BNO News).

Link: http://wireupdate.com/news/thousands-of-yemenis-demand-international-support.html.

Paris (AFP)

Aug 18, 2016

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on Thursday said it was evacuating its staff from six hospitals in northern Yemen after 19 people were killed in an air strike on one of its facilities earlier this week.

Monday’s Saudi-led coalition strike on Abs hospital in the rebel-held province of Hajja was the fourth and deadliest attack yet on an MSF facility in war-torn Yemen, according to the charity.

The decision to pull staff out “is never taken lightly”, the Paris-based aid agency said in a statement, accusing the coalition of “indiscriminate bombings and unreliable reassurances”.

“Given the intensity of the current offensive and our loss of confidence in the SLC’s (Saudi-led coalition’s) ability to prevent such fatal attacks, MSF considers the hospitals in Saada and Hajjah governorates unsafe for both patients and staff,” it added.

The hospitals will continue to be manned by local workers and volunteers, MSF said.

Yemen has been gripped by unrest since Iran-backed Shiite Huthi rebels and allied loyalists of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh overran the capital Sanaa in September 2014.

The violence increased after a Saudi-led Arab coalition launched a military campaign in March last year to help shore up the government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

The coalition stepped up its air strikes this month after UN-mediated peace talks between the rebels and Yemen’s internationally backed government were suspended.

– ‘Indiscriminate attacks’ –

Monday’s bombing of Abs hospital drew international condemnation, prompting the coalition to announce an independent investigation into the attack.

MSF said it had shared the hospital’s GPS coordinates with all parties involved in the conflict.

“Coalition officials repeatedly state that they honour international humanitarian law, yet this attack shows a failure to control the use of force and to avoid attacks on hospitals full of patients,” it said.

“MSF is neither satisfied nor reassured by the SLC’s statement that this attack was a mistake.”

It also accused all sides in Yemen’s war of “indiscriminate attacks without any respect for civilians”.

One MSF worker was among those killed in the Abs hospital attack, while another 24 people were wounded.

The group’s emergency coordinator Laurent Sury told AFP that “several dozen” international and Yemeni MSF workers were affected by the decision to pull out of the six hospitals.

“Our aim is to open programs, not close them, especially considering the enormous needs in the north,” he said. “But today, the minimum security conditions can no longer be guaranteed.”

He said that civilians were paying a heavy price in the conflict.

“Today in Yemen, you risk your life when you seek out care, whether you are a pregnant woman needing a Cesarean or child requiring antibiotics.”

The hospital strike was the latest in a series of coalition raids that have allegedly hit civilian facilities — including a school in the rebel stronghold of Saada on Saturday where 10 children were killed.

The UN says more than 6,500 people, mostly civilians, have been killed since last March and more than 80 percent of the population needs humanitarian aid.

Source: Space War.

Link: http://www.spacewar.com/reports/MSF_evacuates_staff_from_6_Yemen_hospitals_after_air_strike_999.html.

Wednesday 25 May 2016

Taiz, YEMEN – The national tricolor of Yemen could not be seen in Taiz on this year’s unity day, and its people did not celebrate. The government-in-exile cancelled Sunday’s events in answer to those planned by their Houthi enemies in the capital, Sanaa.

Instead, new flags were flying for a growing movement – the Republic of Taiz – and traditional celebrations were replaced by local protests calling for independence.

Such is the mood in Taiz, scarred by a year of war, neglected by the government and its Saudi backers, shunned by southern separatists and under siege by the Houthis, that many feel their only answer is to go it alone.

The republican movement has taken root among residents and those fighting the Houthis – the local “Popular Resistance” and regular army troops who ostensibly back the government-in-exile of President Abd Rabbuh Hadi.

And their feelings have been made known. Their red, blue and yellow flag can now be seen fluttering from many military vehicles in the city of Taiz, and protests are regularly held by civilians.

Farouq al-Samei, an independence activist in Taiz, told Middle East Eye: “When I saw the Houthis killing the civilians of my city and no one helped, I decided to demand independence.

“All sides had disappointed Taiz – even those injured in the war have been denied help. We demand independence, and then we can develop our country.”

Samei said resistance fighters and the military were at the forefront of the movement, which would push their plan after the Houthis were defeated.

“In 2011 we supported Hadi, and he did not help us. In 2015 we fought for Hadi, and again he did not help us. We will not fight for Hadi again, we are fighting for liberation, and then we will build our own country.”

“We changed our loyalty, we are loyalists to the Republic of Taiz and not Yemen, and we do not care about the north or the south, we only care about Taiz.”

Taiz faces isolation despite being caught in the nexus of Yemen’s year-long civil war. It has been besieged by Houthi fighters for months, and reinforcements from the Saudi-led coalition have never arrived.

The secessionist Southern Movement, based in Aden, has refused aid to Taiz and continues to send undocumented “northerners” back to a war zone if they are found in its territory.

On Thursday, independence activists staged their first public demonstration in Jamal Street, in the center of Taiz city. Although the protest was small, military vehicles were decked with the new standard, suggesting tacit if not outright support from military leaders.

A soldier in Taiz city told MEE: “I have been fighting the Houthis for more than one year. The Yemeni government and the coalition forces did not send enough military reinforcements for us.

“Meanwhile, the southern authorities did not allow our injured friends to recover in Aden’s hospitals. I will not fight for the sake of Hadi or his government any more, but I will fight for Taiz.”

He could not give his name for fear his leadership would revoke his pay.

Activists say the new republic would encompass “al-Ganad” – Taiz province and surrounding areas such as Ibb, and some areas from al-Dhale and Lahj provinces.

Their plan mirrors agreements made in the national transition period after the fall of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2011, which envisaged the division of Yemen into six regions as a solution to growing calls for independence in the former South Yemen.

The Houthis cancelled the plan, agreed by the National Dialogue Conference, when they took over Sanaa and kicked out President Hadi, Saleh’s replacement.

The Houthis and Hadi government are currently locked in UN-sponsored peace talks in Kuwait, which special envoy Ahmed Ould-Sheikh on Wednesday said was “closer” to an agreement to end more than a year of full-blown war.

“We are in a stage where the parties have to make hard choices and compromises,” the diplomat said, adding that he was “very optimistic” that a deal could be reached.

However, a report released by the London-based Chatham House think tank warned on Wednesday that Yemen faces dissolving into a “chaos state” of small wars over local issues and grievances that would be unresolved by “elite-level” talks in Kuwait.

“In the event of an end to the ‘big war’, a replication of past patterns of behavior – focusing on the dynamics and ignoring localized issues – will most likely result in Yemen collapsing into a multitude of small wars,” the report said.

Taiz is one such localized issue.

Fadhl al-Rabei, a political analyst, said while independence for Taiz was not likely, the demand would nevertheless send a message to the world that Taiz was fighting alone.

Division was “the best solution” for war-torn Yemen, he added, noting Taiz was not the only area calling for independence.

The Tehama movement has grown in popularity in Hodeida province and its surrounding areas in recent years, with grievances similar to Taiz such as neglect by the government.

“The Southern Movement demands independence, the Tehama movement demands independence for Tehama, as does Taiz. These parts of Yemen can be divided into regions, and this will be the best solution,” he added.

However, the movement in Taiz is still only grassroots. Many of the province’s political parties support the Hadi government, meaning their hands are tied.

The leaders of the Popular Resistance, meanwhile, are publicly against the movement. Nael al-Adimi, a leader in Taiz city, called those involved “traitors” and a threat to the common defense of the province.

He stated that all Taiz residents must first expel the Houthis, before any other project can be discussed.

“We will not support such a ridiculous project,” he said.

“There are some traitors in Taiz trying to divide the Popular Resistance with their new projects, which are not in the interests of Taiz, and the Republic of Taiz is one of them.”

Source: Middle East Eye.

Link: http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/republic-taiz-yemen-resistance-1769604821.