France, Saudi Arabia to hold Yemen humanitarian conference end of June

France and Saudi Arabia will co-host an international conference on Yemen in Paris in June. (REUTERS)
Updated 24 May 2018
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France, Saudi Arabia to hold Yemen humanitarian conference end of June

  • France and Saudi Arabia will co-host an international conference on Yemen in Paris
  • More than 10,000 people have been killed in a war that has displaced 3 million internally

PARIS: France and Saudi Arabia will co-host an international conference on Yemen in Paris in June to assess humanitarian needs for the country and possibly contribute to reviving U.N.-backed peace talks.
A Saudi-led coalition backed by the West has carried out air strikes against the armed Houthi movement in a war since 2015 to restore the internationally recognised government.
More than 10,000 people have been killed in a war that has displaced 3 million internally and unleashed the world's worst humanitarian crisis, the UN says.
"We are currently working on how to organise this conference with our various partners, Yemen and the United Nations," France's foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll told reporters in a daily briefing on Wednesday.
"This conference should take stock of humanitarian needs, evaluate the assistance provided and the response mechanisms which need to be improved and define humanitarian actions to improve the situation of civilian populations."
The French president's office said the conference would take place at the end of June. A source aware of the plans said it was scheduled for June 27.
Von der Muhll declined to say whether Paris intended to invite representatives of the Iran-aligned Houthis.
"This work, which we want to be collective, can help to recreate the conditions for a resumption of political discussions under the auspices of the United nations," Von der Muhll said in a statement on Tuesday.
It is unclear how this would fit into the UN Yemen mediator Martin Griffiths' efforts. He said in April he wanted to present a plan for negotiations within two months to end the conflict, but warned that any new military offensives could "take peace off the table."
Three rounds of UN-backed peace talks between the Houthis and the Yemeni government, with the last held in Kuwait in August 2016, ended without success. Griffiths began his term in March in a bid by the U.N. to revive the stalled peace process.


DR Congo court charges army officer in murder of UN experts

Updated 11 min 33 sec ago
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DR Congo court charges army officer in murder of UN experts

  • Authorities had initially said the victims, Zaida Catalan, a Swedish woman, and American Michael Sharp, were killed in March 2017 by terrorist militiamen in central Kasai region
  • Col. Jean de Dieu Mambweni, who was arrested in December, will face charges including criminal conspiracy and murder as a war crime

KANANGA: A DR Congo military tribunal on Monday charged an army colonel with the murder of two UN experts who were killed two years ago while investigating violence in a restive central region.
Authorities had initially said the victims, Zaida Catalan, a Swedish woman, and American Michael Sharp, were killed in March 2017 by “terrorist” militiamen in central Kasai region.
Col. Jean de Dieu Mambweni, who was arrested in December, will face charges including criminal conspiracy and murder as a war crime, court clerk Captain Alain Bosombi told AFP.
“The date of his appearance has not yet been set but it will be soon,” the official said.
The army officer was in charge of relations with civilians in the central Kasai region at the time of the killings.
Prosecutors say he was in telephone contact on the day with one of the main murder suspects.
A UN report described the murder of the two experts as a “premeditated setup” in which state security may have been involved.
Their deaths sent shockwaves through political and diplomatic circles in Kinshasa — especially among aid workers grappling with the country’s entrenched violence and humanitarian crisis.