Yemen VP urges national unity against Houthis

emeni Vice President Ali Mohsen Saleh
Updated 18 December 2017
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Yemen VP urges national unity against Houthis

ADEN: Yemeni Vice President Ali Mohsen Saleh has called for national unity to defeat the Houthi militias.
Addressing a meeting of leaders of the Nasserite Popular Unionist Party in Aden, he urged all political parties and national organizations to unite their ranks in confronting the Iran-backed Houthis, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
He discussed the role of political parties in supporting the internationally recognized government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
The government — with local, regional and international support — would eventually bring an end to the turmoil created by the Houthis, Saleh said.
Military operations are aimed at stopping Houthi crimes against Yemen and its people, and building a federal state comprising six provinces in accordance with the National Dialogue Conference resolutions, he added.
A Yemeni military source said the army had liberated the areas of Haid bin Aqeel and Hajjar-Kahlan as it advances toward Wadi Khar next to Al-Baidah province, the SPA reported.
The source said the army had seized weaponry and ammunition left behind by fleeing militias.
The army’s engineering teams have begun clearing mines and explosives in the liberated areas in the Behan region of Shabwa province.
Abdul Raqib Fatah, Yemen’s local administration minister and head of the Higher Committee for Relief, said many displaced residents of Sanaa and neighboring provinces occupied by the Houthis had fled to government-controlled areas due to the militias’ brutality.
He renewed the government’s request for UN relief and humanitarian organizations to move to Aden so they can continue their work without Houthi interference and under international standards and protocols.
Houthi interference in relief operations is preventing humanitarian aid from reaching the needy, Fatah said.


Refugee returns to Syria must be coordinated with UN: Merkel

Updated 1 min 23 sec ago
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Refugee returns to Syria must be coordinated with UN: Merkel

  • Germany's Merkel says Syria must be more secure before refugees return

BEIRUT: The return of Syrian refugees to their homeland can only happen in coordination with the United Nations, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday during her two-day visit to Lebanon.
Refugee returns have been a hot-button issue in Lebanon, a small country that has the world’s highest number of refugees per capita.
“We want to contribute to reaching a political solution in Syria, that will allow refugees to return to Syria,” Merkel told reporters on Friday, after meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
“I confirmed with officials that returns can only happen in agreement and talks with UN organizations,” she added.
Around 500 refugees left southern Lebanon earlier this year for Syria in a return organized between Lebanese and Syrian authorities, and several thousand have gone back to their homeland from towns around the border in recent years.
The UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) says it is not involved in the return process and does not yet consider Syria safe enough for refugees to return.
Lebanese officials have been increasingly calling for refugee returns with or without a political solution to Syria’s seven-year-old crisis.
Merkel said it was “understandable” that the large refugee influx had caused tensions in Lebanon but expressed hope they could be resolved.
Her comments come at a rocky time for ties between Lebanon’s government and the UNHCR.
This month, Lebanese foreign minister Gebran Bassil ordered a halt to new residency permits for UNHCR’s foreign staff, accusing them of “intimidating the displaced who wish to return voluntarily.”
The UN has said it hopes Bassil will rescind his decision. The rest of Lebanon’s government has not officially commented.

Hariri, who has been appointed for a third term as Lebanon’s premier, said his country was still seeking refugee returns “as quickly as possible.”
“The only permanent solution for Syrian refugees is their return to Syria in a safe and dignified manner,” he told reporters.
Merkel is also due to meet Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Friday, before flying back to Germany where she faces intense pressure to curb migrant arrivals.

According to the UNHCR, more than 5.6 million people have fled Syria since 2011 and another 6.6 million are currently internally displaced.
The UN last week said it noted at least 920,000 displacements since the beginning of the year, the highest in that time frame in Syria’s war.
Aid groups have warned that heightened anti-refugee rhetoric and quieting battlefronts in Syria could lead government to force refugees out.