UAE defends Trump’s visa ban

United Arab Emirates' Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan (R), Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) and Arab League Secretary General (unseen) are seen during a press conference in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. (AFP)
Updated 02 February 2017
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UAE defends Trump’s visa ban

ABU DHABI: The UAE’s top diplomat on Wednesday came out in defense of President Donald Trump’s order temporarily barring citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US.
Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, UAE foreign minister, said the US was within its rights to take what he said was a “sovereign decision” concerning immigration.
Sheikh Abdullah also voiced faith in the American administration’s assurances that the move was not based on religion, and noted that most of the world’s Muslim-majority countries were not covered by the order.
“There is a temporary ban and will be revised in three months, so it is important that we put into consideration this point,” he said.
“Some of these countries that were on this list are countries that face structural problems,” he continued. “These countries should try to solve these issues ... and these circumstances before trying to solve this issue with the US.”
Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for lifting the ban, saying the measures would not prevent terrorists from entering the US. “I think that these measures should be removed sooner rather than later,” Guterres told reporters.
“Those measures indeed violate our basic principles and I think that they are not effective if the objective is to, really, avoid terrorists to enter the US,” he said. “If a global terrorist organization will try to attack any country like the US, they will probably not come with people with passports from those countries that are hotspots of conflicts today.”
“They might come with the passports from the most — I would say — developed and credible countries in the world or they might use people who are already in the country.”
British Premier Theresa May told British lawmakers that the ban was “divisive and wrong,” five days after she initially refused to condemn the move.
The Vatican, meanwhile, voiced “concern” over the ban and Trump’s executive orders to build a wall on the US-Mexican border and impose.
“Naturally, there is concern,” the Holy See’s number three, Monsignor Angelo Becciu, said.


UN to deliver aid to Syrians trapped near Jordan border

Updated 6 min 13 sec ago
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UN to deliver aid to Syrians trapped near Jordan border

  • An estimated 50,000 women, children and men are stranded at the Rukban camp in southeast Syria near the Iraqi and Jordanian border
  • Jordan has allowed several humanitarian aid deliveries to the area following UN requests, but the borders remain closed

DAMASCUS, Syria: The UN said it was organizing a joint aid convoy with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to tens of thousands of Syrians stranded in the desert near the Jordanian border.

The world body said the convoy would deliver “humanitarian assistance to an estimated 50,000 women, children and men who are stranded at the Rukban camp in southeast Syria near the Iraqi and Jordanian border.”

“The overall humanitarian situation inside the Rukban camp is at a critical stage,” said Ali Al-Za’tari, the UN’s top official in Damascus.

Linda Tom, a spokeswoman for the UN’s humanitarian coordination office, OCHA, said the world body was “deeply concerned over the deteriorating humanitarian situation” at the camp.

A suicide bombing claimed by Daesh in June 2016 killed seven Jordanian soldiers in no-man’s land near the nearby Rukban crossing.

Soon afterwards, the army declared Jordan’s desert regions that stretch northeast to Syria and east to Iraq “closed military zones.”

The kingdom, part of the US-led coalition fighting Daesh, has allowed several humanitarian aid deliveries to the area following UN requests, but the borders remain closed. 

The camp, home to displaced people from across Syria, also lies close to the Al-Tanf base used by the US-led coalition fighting IS.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the camp suffers from a severe lack of food and medicines, compounded by its remote desert location, the closure of the Jordanian border and regime forces cutting off all roads to it.

The last delivery of UN aid to Rukban took place in January 2018 through Jordan.

The UN children’s agency UNICEF last week urged warring parties in Syria to allow basic health service deliveries to the camp, saying two babies without access to hospitals had died there within 48 hours.

On Thursday, UN humanitarian aid expert Jan Egeland confirmed the regime had agreed to allow convoys of aid to the Rukban area.

He said Russian officials had told him Syria’s regime had withdrawn a controversial law that allowed for authorities to seize property left behind by civilians who fled fighting in the country’s civil war.

Egeland of the office of UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura also confirmed he will leave his post in November. 

He spoke a day after de Mistura told the UN Security Council that he is leaving for “personal” reasons.

The envoy said that he will make a final effort before stepping down next month to advance toward a new constitution for Syria — a key step in ending the country’s civil war.

De Mistura announced at the end of a Security Council briefing that he is leaving the job in late November for “purely, purely personal reasons” related to his family after four years and four months in one of the toughest UN jobs.

He told council members that objections by the Syrian government are still holding up the launch of the committee meant to draft a new constitution.

While there is agreement on the 50-member government and opposition delegations for the drafting committee, de Mistura said the government objects to a third 50-member delegation that the UN put together representing Syrian experts, civil society, independents, tribal leaders and women.

De Mistura said he has been invited to Damascus next week to discuss the committee’s formation.

He said he also intends to invite senior officials from Russia, Turkey and Iran — the guarantor states in the so-called “Astana process” aimed at ending the violence in Syria — to meet him in Geneva, and to talk to a group of key countries comprising Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Britain and the US.