Houthis exploiting businesses, banks: Yemeni govt

A Yemeni soldier mans a machine gun mounted on a military truck near the Red Sea coast city of Al-Mokha, on Monday. (Reuters)
Updated 28 January 2017
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Houthis exploiting businesses, banks: Yemeni govt

JEDDAH: Houthi militias in Yemen are exploiting businesses, levying inflated fees, and using bank profits to finance war expenses, the war-torn country’s prime minister has said.
Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr said Houthi militias and rebels regrettably still control YER300 billion generated from areas including customs, trade, telecoms, cigarette sales and cement factories.
In a statement to the official Yemeni Press Agency, the country’s prime minister accused the Houthis of exploiting the private manufacturing and service sectors, making them pay more royalties, and using a significant portion of commercial banks’ returns to cover war expenses.
The prime minister added that such funds should be under the control of the legitimate government of Yemen. Leaving them in the hands of Houthis will harm people’s lives by allowing militias to smuggle in weapons used to kill Yemeni people.
Daghr urged Houthi militias and those loyal to ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh to desist from the illegal control of central bank branches in Sana’a, and allow them to work under the guidance of the bank’s new board of directors and governor.
On Thursday, Yemen’s Ambassador to the UN Khaled Al-Yamani said rebels in his country use collective punishment against Yemenis in areas under their control, having effectively transformed Yemen into a large prison with thousands of journalists, students, activists, academics and politicians languishing in militia detention centers.
In his speech to a UN Security Council meeting on Thursday, Al-Yamani said “rebels, over the past two years, have depleted the state’s resources and capabilities, and trafficked in everything for unholy funds, while sacking billions from the central bank. This pushed the Yemeni government to transfer the central bank to the temporary capital of Aden.”
Al-Yamani said the “government has worked over the past two months to provide the finances needed to pay public servants in the civilian and military sectors their salaries, despite the rebels’ attempts to punish the Yemeni people by threatening all those who cooperate with the government to facilitate the payment of salaries.”
The King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aid has meanwhile transported 16 injured Yemenis from Taiz to Sudan for treatment.
The group left from Aden International Airport for Sudan in order to receive treatment at the expense of the center.
In a statement Taiz Gov. Ali Al-Maamari praised the center for covering the cost of treatment abroad and transportation of this second group of injured Yemenis.


Vulture with GPS tracker held in Yemen on suspicion it was used for spying

Updated 25 April 2019
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Vulture with GPS tracker held in Yemen on suspicion it was used for spying

  • The bird migrated from Bulgaria, to Turkey, to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and then Yemen
  • Govt forces detained the bird on suspicion that the attached GPS tracker was a spy device for Houthi militants

SANAA: Griffon vulture Nelson crossed into war-torn Yemen in search of food but ended up in the hands of Yemeni fighters — and temporarily in jail for suspected espionage.
The sand-colored bird came down in the country’s third city of Taiz, an unusual move for a young vulture that can soar for long distances across continents in search of food and moderate weather.
Nelson, approximately two years old, embarked on his journey in September 2018 from Bulgaria, where his wing was tagged and equipped with a satellite transmitter by the Fund for Wild Fauna and Flora (FWFF).
But he seems to have lost his way, eventually coming down into Taiz — under siege by Houthi rebels but controlled by pro-government forces, who mistook Nelson’s satellite transmitter for an espionage device and detained the bird.
Forces loyal to the government believed that the GPS tracker attached to the bird may have been a spy device for the rebels.
Hisham Al-Hoot, who represents the FWFF in Yemen, traveled from the rebel-held capital Sanaa to Taiz to plead with local officials to release the helpless animal.
“It took about 12 days to get the bird,” he told AFP.
“The Bulgarian foreign ministry reached out to the Yemeni ambassador, who in turn contacted local officials (in Taiz) and told them to immediately give the organization the vulture.”
Hoot said that the bird migrated from Bulgaria, to Turkey, to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and then Yemen — where the FWFF lost track of the bird.
Nelson was MIA until April 5, when the conservation group received hundreds of messages from Yemenis concerned about the creatures’ welfare.
Today, the locally-famous vulture is being properly fed and getting stronger every day.
“When we first took him, he was in very bad condition,” said Hoot, adding that the bird was underweight.
Smiling, he puts on gloves and carefully handles the majestic creature — blowing it a kiss.
Hoot said the bird will be released in two months when he believed Nelson will have regained his full strength and his wing — broken somewhere during his journey — will have healed.
“We thought at first it would take six months for him to heal, but now we don’t think it will be more than two months,” he said.
Hoot said that Nelson was not able to find any source of sustenance in Yemen.
“They can eat carcasses of dead animals, but now there is no more with the current situation of war.
“This is what forced him to come down and stopped him from completing his journey.”
The four-year conflict in Yemen has unleashed the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, according to the United Nations, with millions facing famine.
The war escalated in March 2015 when a coalition, led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, intervened to bolster the efforts of Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.
Since then, at least 10,000 people — most of them civilians — have been killed and more than 60,000 wounded, according to the World Health Organization. Other rights groups estimate the toll could be much higher.