Britain requests UN Security Council meeting on Yemen port offensive

File photo showing the UN Security Council meets on settlement of conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa region. (AFP)
Updated 13 June 2018
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Britain requests UN Security Council meeting on Yemen port offensive

  • The council is expected to meet Thursday, which would be the second time this week that the top UN body has held talks on the crisis in Yemen.
  • The UN envoy Martin Griffiths has been pressing the Houthis to turn over the port to a UN-supervised committee.

UNITED NATIONS: Britain on Wednesday requested an urgent UN Security Council meeting after Yemen government forces backed by the Saudi-led coalition launched an offensive on the key port of Hodeida, diplomats said.
The United Nations has raised alarm over the military operation, which could cripple deliveries of commercial goods and humanitarian aid to millions in Yemen who are on the brink of famine.
The council is expected to meet Thursday, which would be the second time this week that the top UN body has held talks on the crisis in Yemen.
The request came after UN envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, said he was continuing to hold negotiations on keeping Hodeida open.
The Red Sea port, controlled by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, serves as the entry point for 70 percent of the impoverished country’s imports, but the coalition maintains that the rebels use it to smuggle weapons.
The United Nations has warned that up to 250,000 people were at risk if the coalition moves ahead with an all-out offensive to take Hodeida.

The council on Monday said it backed Griffiths’ diplomatic efforts but did not specifically call on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, whose troops are backing Yemeni forces, to refrain from attacking Hodeida.
The UN envoy has been pressing the Houthis to turn over the port to a UN-supervised committee that would allow shipments of vital supplies to continue to flow through Hodeida.
More than 22 million people in Yemen are in need of aid including 8.4 million who are at risk of starvation, according to the United Nations which considers Yemen to be the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Since 2015, Saudi Arabia has been leading a military campaign to push back the Houthis and restore the internationally recognized government to power.
The conflict has left nearly 10,000 people dead, tens of thousands wounded in what was already the Arab world’s poorest country.
 

 

 

 


Beijing dismisses ‘hearsay’ on Muslim internment

Updated 13 November 2018
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Beijing dismisses ‘hearsay’ on Muslim internment

  • Critics say China is seeking to assimilate Xinjiang’s minority population and suppress religious and cultural practices that belong in the minority
  • Beijing has repeatedly described the camps as vocational “training centers” that were built to help people drawn to extremism

BEIJING: China defended its internment of Muslims in the country’s northwest as a terror prevention measure on Tuesday, calling on the international community to reject “hearsay” and believe its official line.
Up to a million Uighurs and other Chinese Turkic-speaking minority groups have been placed in political re-education camps in the Xinjiang region, according to a group of experts cited by the United Nations.
After originally denying the existence of the centers, Beijing has repeatedly described the camps as vocational “training centers” that were built to help people drawn to extremism to stay away from terrorism and allow them to be reintegrated into society.
But the program has faced rising criticism outside the country — notably from the United States and human rights groups.
“We hope our journalist friends and our other foreign friends will take into consideration the information and briefings on the situation given by the Chinese authorities,” said China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
“Rumours and hearsay should not be believed,” he said standing next to his German counterpart Heiko Maas at a press conference.
“It’s quite clear that the government in Xinjiang knows best what is happening in Xinjiang — not other people and third party organizations.”
Critics say China is seeking to assimilate Xinjiang’s minority population and suppress religious and cultural practices that conflict with Communist ideology and the dominant Han culture.
Former inmates of the camps say they were detained for having long beards or wearing the veil.
Attacks attributed to Uighurs have left hundreds dead over the last few years in China, many of them in Xinjiang, where Beijing says its concerned about a rise in Islamic radicalism.
The authorities have put in place intrusive measures of security — ubiquitous surveillance cameras, DNA sampling, home visits by officials and GPS trackers in cars.
“We call that a combination of repression and prevention. But we place the priority on prevention. If it’s done well, terrorism won’t expand and take root. It’s the most effective way to combat terrorism,” Wang Yi said.
The German foreign minister did not mention the Xinjiang region at the press conference, but did say he had “spoken on the question of human rights” during his closed meeting with his Chinese counterpart.
A debate on the situation in Xinjiang was held in the German parliament last Thursday.
China’s ambassador to Berlin expressed Beijing’s “profound discontent” and put in an official protest following the “blatant interference” in its “domestic affairs.”