UN aid workers return to Yemen on flights to Sanaa

Workers unload aid shipment from a plane at Sanaa airport on Saturday. (Reuters)
Updated 26 November 2017
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UN aid workers return to Yemen on flights to Sanaa

GENEVA: Humanitarian aid workers arrived in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa on Saturday, after a nearly three-week blockade by the Saudi-led military coalition, an official at the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) said.
“First plane landed in Sanaa this morning with humanitarian aid workers,” WFP’s regional spokeswoman Abeer Etefa told Reuters in an e-mail on Saturday.
Officials at Sanaa airport said two other UN flights had arrived on Saturday.
A UN plane carrying desperately needed vaccines landed in Sanaa.
Three other aircraft — two carrying UN aid workers and one carrying International Committee of the Red Cross staff — also landed at the airport, which was repaired earlier this week after a coalition airstrike knocked out its controls, an AFP correspondent reported.
The UN humanitarian affairs office had said Friday that it had been given clearance by the coalition to resume flights into Sanaa.
The UN children’s fund UNICEF said Saturday’s flight was carrying more than 15 tons, or 1.9 million doses, of vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus and other preventable diseases.
The UN humanitarian office said that a ship loaded with wheat and another with equipment to treat Yemen’s cholera epidemic is ready to head to Hodeida.
The coalition fighting the armed Houthi militias in Yemen said on Wednesday it would allow aid in through the Red Sea ports of Hodeida and Salif, as well as UN flights to Sanaa.
International aid groups have welcomed the decision to let humanitarian aid in. About 7 million people face famine in Yemen and their survival depends on international assistance.
A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition was quoted on Friday as saying that 42 permits have been issued for international aid flights to Sanaa and naval shipments to Hodeida.
The US welcomed the “first step” by Saudi Arabia to allow aid to reach Yemen and called for negotiations on the country’s conflict.
“Full and immediate implementation of the announced measures is a first step in ensuring that food, medicine, and fuel reach the Yemeni people and that the aid organizations on the front lines of mitigating this humanitarian crisis are able to do their essential work,” the White House said in a statement.
“We look forward to additional steps that will facilitate the unfettered flow of humanitarian and commercial goods from all ports of entry to the points of need,” it added.
“The United States continues to believe that this devastating conflict, and the suffering it causes, must be brought to an end through political negotiations,” the White House said.
The US-backed coalition closed air, land and sea access on Nov. 6, in a move it said was to stop the flow of arms to the Houthis from Iran.
The action came after Saudi Arabia intercepted a missile fired toward Riyadh.


Sudan police tear gas protesters ahead of parliament march

Updated 20 January 2019
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Sudan police tear gas protesters ahead of parliament march

  • Video clips circulating online show hundreds of security forces in Khartoum and more heading to nearby Omdurman
  • Longtime ruler Omar Al-Bashir insists there will be no change of leadership except through the ballot box

KHARTOUM: Sudanese police fired tear gas on Sunday at protesters ahead of a planned march on parliament in Omdurman, the twin city of Khartoum, witnesses said.

Demonstrators chanting “freedom, peace and justice” began gathering in some areas of Omdurman but were quickly confronted by riot police with tear gas, the witnesses said.

Deadly protests which erupted on December 19 after a government decision to raise the price of bread have turned into nationwide rallies against President Omar Al-Bashir’s three decade rule.

Officials say at least 26 people, including two security personnel, have died during a month of protests, while rights group Amnesty International last week put the death toll at more than 40.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, an umbrella group of trade unions that is leading the ongoing protest movement, called for fresh demonstrations on Sunday and several days over the coming week.

“We are calling for a march to parliament in Omdurman on Sunday,” it said in a statement.

“The protesters will submit to parliament a memorandum calling on President Bashir to step down,” added the association, which represents the unions of doctors, teachers and engineers.

Over the past month, protesters have staged several demonstrations in Omdurman.

The SPA said there will also be rallies in Khartoum on Sunday, to be followed by night-time demonstrations on Tuesday in the capital and in Omdurman.

“And on Thursday there will be rallies across all towns and cities of Sudan,” the statement added.