UN ramps up appeal for South Sudan refugees

The new head of the World Food Programme (WFP) David Beasley attends a press conference about an updated aid appeal for South Sudan on May 15, 2017 at the United Nations Office in Geneva. (AFP)
Updated 15 May 2017
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UN ramps up appeal for South Sudan refugees

GENEVA: UN agencies increased their 2017 appeal for South Sudan’s refugees on Monday, saying they needed at least $1.4 billion to help alleviate “unimaginable” levels of suffering.
The UN refugee agency and the World Food Programme had earlier asked for $1.2 billion to support more than 1.8 million people fleeing fighting. But even that was only 14 percent funded, the agencies said in a joint statement.
“The suffering of the South Sudanese people is just unimaginable ... They are close to the abyss,” WFP Executive Director David Beasley said.
Two years after its independence, South Sudan plunged into conflict in December 2013 after rivalry between President Salva Kiir and his then-vice president, Riek Machar, exploded into violence.
A 2015 peace deal was signed but the terms were never fully respected. Lingering suspicions between Machar and Kiir triggered a fresh bout of fighting in July 2016 and violence has since spread to large areas of the country.
The conflict has led parts of the oil-producing country into famine and paralyzed public services.
Other anti-government groups have also emerged since the conflict erupted. Some have fought each other.
On Saturday, seven opposition groups, including that of Machar, said they had agreed to work closely in their bid to oust Kiir’s government.
Last week, Kiir fired his army chief Paul Malong, raising fears of armed confrontation. Malong has said he had no intention of staging a revolt against Kiir’s government.
Beasley said the number of those displaced by fighting stood at 3.8 million, and that 5.5 million people are facing hunger, while the onset of the rainy season was expected to make many roads unusable, making it harder for help to reach them.
“I am deeply alarmed and saddened by the widespread hunger and misery suffered by the South Sudanese people due to the ongoing conflict. The situation in the country is bleak and getting frankly worse,” said Beasley, who added he would be returning to South Sudan later this week.
“This crisis is man-made and is fueled by violence. There is now a real danger that famine, which has already been declared in parts of the former Unity State, could spread to other areas.”


Houthis mobilize to fight ahead of UN envoy’s visit

Pro-government drive in an industrial district in the eastern outskirts of the port city Hodeidah. (AFP)
Updated 19 November 2018
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Houthis mobilize to fight ahead of UN envoy’s visit

  • Dozens of Houthis put on a show of strength on the outskirts of Sanaa on Saturday
  • UN special envoy Martin Griffiths said on Friday that he plans to travel to Sanaa in the coming week

SANAA: Iran-backed Houthi militias have said they are ready to mobilize more fighters to the frontline despite a lull in battleground Hodeidah, as the UN envoy prepares to visit the country to boost peace efforts.

Dozens of Houthis put on a show of strength on the outskirts of Sanaa on Saturday, apparently getting ready to head toward Hodeidah, a Red Sea city home to a vital port.

Men, some of whom looked very young, were lining up with bandoliers around their shoulders and rifles in their hands, chanting Houthi slogans.

Residents said on Sunday that relative calm had held in Hodeidah city since pro-government forces announced a pause in their offensive last week amid international calls for a cease-fire and UN-led peace efforts.  They added, however, that they remain on edge.

Meanwhile, coalition fighter jets on Sunday carried out a series of strikes targeting Houthi positions west of Marib. The strikes, which were accompanied by shelling, came after the Iranian-supported militia launched ballistic missiles toward the city of Marib. Coalition forces successfully intercepted the missiles, Yemeni army media said.

UN special envoy Martin Griffiths said on Friday that he plans to travel to Sanaa in the coming week to finalize arrangements for peace talks to take place in Sweden soon.

Hameed Assem, a member of the militia delegation expected to take part in the negotiations, said that Houthis will continue to mobilize if UN efforts for peace fail to materialize.

Pro-government forces on Wednesday suspended their 12-day offensive in Hodeidah.

Griffiths said on Friday that both the government and the Houthis have shown a “renewed commitment” to work on a political solution and have given “firm assurances” that they will attend the talks. No date has yet been set.

(AFP)