UN says 100,000 ‘trapped’ in Syria’s Afrin

A picture taken on March 19, 2018 shows a body covered with a blanket in a street in the Syrian Kurdish city of Afrin a day after Turkish-led forces entered the city. (AFP)
Updated 20 March 2018
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UN says 100,000 ‘trapped’ in Syria’s Afrin

BEIRUT: UN officials say some 100,000 people are “trapped” in rural areas of Syria’s northern Afrin district and need humanitarian aid after Turkish and allied Syrian forces drove out a Syrian Kurdish militia.
Spokeswoman Marixie Mercado of children’s agency UNICEF says it hasn’t been able to deliver health and nutrition supplies to the district in 20 days, and water trucks have stopped deliveries since Thursday.
UNICEF estimates 50,000 children are among those who need humanitarian aid in Afrin.
On Twitter, Syria country representative Sajjad Malik of the UN refugee agency wrote Tuesday that “looting, destruction of properties & exodus of civilians continues” in Afrin, and “100,000 civilians stay trapped inside in rural areas.”
Earlier, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer, raised doubts about Turkish aid efforts in Afrin, saying “the credibility of the Turkish Red Crescent working in Afrin with the Kurdish population is close to zero.”
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said Maurer’s statement was “far from truth and inacceptable.”


Calm in Hodeidah as observers move in to monitor cease-fire

Sporadic clashes continued until about 3 a.m. on Tuesday, but residents said there was calm after that. (AFP)
Updated 19 December 2018
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Calm in Hodeidah as observers move in to monitor cease-fire

  • “Both parties said publicly they are abiding by the cease-fire,” a UN official said
  • The truce in Hodeidah officially began at midnight on Monday

JEDDAH: Truce monitoring observers will be deployed in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah on Wednesday as the first 24 hours of a UN-brokered cease-fire passed without incident.

The Redeployment Coordination Committee comprises members of the Yemeni government supported by the Saudi-led coalition, and Houthi militias backed by Iran, and is overseen by the UN. 

The head of the committee will report to the UN Security Council every week.

Deployment of the observers is the latest stage in a peace deal reached after talks last week in Sweden. Both sides in the conflict agreed to a cease-fire in Hodeidah and the withdrawal of their forces within 21 days.

“Both parties said publicly they are abiding by the cease-fire,” a UN official said on Tuesday.

Local authorities and police will run the city and its three port facilities under UN supervision, and the two sides are barred from bringing in reinforcements.

UN envoy Martin Griffith said the committee was expected to start its work swiftly “to translate the momentum built up in Sweden into achievements on the ground.”

The truce in Hodeidah officially began at midnight on Monday. Sporadic clashes continued until about 3 a.m. on Tuesday, but residents said there was calm after that. 

“We are hopeful that things will go back to the way they were and that there will be no aggression, no airstrikes and lasting security,” said one, Amani Mohammed.

Another resident, Mohammed Al-Saikel, said he was optimistic the cease-fire would pave the way for a broader truce. “We are hopeful about this cease-fire in Hodeidah and one for Yemen in general,” he said. “We will reach out in peace to whoever does the same.”

The UN Security Council is considering a draft resolution that asks Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to submit proposals by the end of the month on how to monitor the cease-fire.

The resolution, submitted by the UK, “calls on all parties to the conflict to take further steps to facilitate the unhindered flow of commercial and humanitarian supplies including food, fuel, medicine and other essential imports and humanitarian personnel into and across the country.”