UN hopes imports will help stave off famine in Yemen as diphtheria spreads

UNICEF's representative in Yemen, Meritxell Relano, looks on during a press conference in the Yemeni capital Sana'a, on January 16, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 17 January 2018
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UN hopes imports will help stave off famine in Yemen as diphtheria spreads

GENEVA: UN aid agencies called on Tuesday for the Yemeni port of Hodeidah to remain open beyond Friday, the date set by a Saudi-led military coalition, to permit continued delivery of life-saving goods.
Yemen is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, where 8.3 million people are entirely dependent on external food aid and 400,000 children suffer from severe acute malnutrition, a potentially lethal condition, they said.
The Arab coalition, under international pressure, eased a three-week blockade which was imposed on Yemeni ports and airports in November in response to a ballistic missile fired by the Houthi movement toward the Saudi capital Riyadh.
Four mobile cranes arrived in the important Houthi-controlled Hodeidah port, the UN said on Monday, after the coalition agreed to let them into Yemen, where nearly three years of war have pushed it to the verge of famine.
“The port in theory is going be open to the 19th of this month. Then we don’t know if the coalition will close or (leave) it open,” Meritxell Relano, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Representative in Yemen, told a news briefing in Geneva.
“Obviously the feeling is that they extend this period so that the commercial goods can come in, but especially the fuel,” she said, speaking from the capital Sanaa.
Before the conflict, Hodeidah port handled around 70 percent of Yemen’s imports, including food and humanitarian supplies.
Fuel is vital to power water and sanitation stations to provide clean water and help avoid diseases, she said.
More than 11 million Yemeni children — virtually all — need humanitarian assitance, Relano said. UNICEF figures show 25,000 Yemeni babies die at birth or before the age of one month.
“Yemen is in the grips of the world’s biggest hunger crisis,” World Food Programme (WFP) spokeswoman Bettina Luescher said. “This is a nightmare that is happening right now.”
“We appeal to parties on (the) ground in order to stave off famine that we can continue regularly to get food in, to get medicines in, to get fuel in, be it from the humanitarian or the commercial side,” she said.

Luescher, asked about prospects for the Hodeidah port lifeline to remain open, replied: “Obviously since the cranes were imported and are operational, we are hopeful and optimistic that our work can continue.”
A diphtheria outbreak in Yemen is “spreading quickly,” with 678 cases and 48 associated deaths in four months, Fadela Chaib of the World Health Organization said.
The number of cases has doubled since Dec 22, when the WHO reported 333 people affected by the highly-contagious disease, with 35 deaths. Ibb and Hodeidah are the worst-hit of the 19 affected governorates, Chaib said.
“We can stop the outbreak by providing antibiotics and also vaccinating,” she said. Some 2.5 million doses have been imported for a planned immunization campaign, she said.


Egyptian tomb reveals its secrets after 4,400 years in ‘find of the decades’

Guests enter a newly discovered tomb, belonging to the high priest ‘Wahtye,’ who served during the 5th dynasty reign of King Neferirkare (2500-2300 BC), at the Saqqara necropolis, 30 km from Cairo, on Saturday. (AFP)
Updated 47 min 49 sec ago
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Egyptian tomb reveals its secrets after 4,400 years in ‘find of the decades’

  • They expect to make more discoveries when they excavate those on Sunday
  • The priest’s tomb “is exceptionally well preserved, colored, with sculpture inside”

CAIRO: Egyptian archaeologists have discovered the tomb of a priest dating back more than 4,400 years in the pyramid complex of Saqqara south of Cairo.

The tomb belongs to Wahtye, a high priest who served during the fifth-dynasty reign of King Neferirkare. It is decorated with scenes showing the royal priest alongside his mother, wife and other members of his family.

It also contains more than a dozen niches and 24 statues of the priest and members of his family.

The priest’s tomb “is exceptionally well preserved, colored, with sculpture inside. It belongs to a high official priest,” Antiquities Minister Khaled El-Enany said.

The tomb was found in a buried ridge at the ancient necropolis of Saqqara. It was untouched and unlooted, said Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities. He described the find as “one of a kind in the last decades.”

Archaeologists removed a last layer of debris from the tomb on Thursday and found five shafts inside, Waziri said. 

They expect to make more discoveries when they excavate those on Sunday.

“I can imagine that all of the objects can be found in this area,” he said, pointing at one of the shafts. “This should lead to a coffin or a sarcophagus of the owner of the tomb.”

The fifth dynasty ruled Egypt from about 2,500 to 2,350 BC, not long after the great pyramid of Giza was built. Saqqara was the necropolis for Memphis, the capital of ancient Egypt for more than two millennia.