Despite progress, Yemen still faces challenges owing to Houthis’ brutal acts

Mark Lowcock, UN undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, speaks at a press conference. Lowcock said Yemen is facing a serious humanitarian crisis due to the Houthi aggression. (SPA)
Updated 23 July 2018
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Despite progress, Yemen still faces challenges owing to Houthis’ brutal acts

  • UN and Saudi aid officials meet to discuss ways to make relief work in Yemen more efficient
  • Saudi Arabia is the biggest source of aid to Yemen

RIYADH: The humanitarian situation and UN relief operations in Yemen were discussed in detail during a meeting held at King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) on Monday. During the meeting it was agreed that much progress has been made, but there is still much to be do in Yemen.

The meeting was was attended by Mark Lowcock, UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator; Mohammed Al-Jabir, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Yemen and executive director of the Yemen comprehensive humanitarian operations; Dr. Sultan Alshamsi, assistant minister for foreign affairs and international development; Maj. Gen. Abdullah Al-Hobabi, director of Civil Military Operations and joint Forces Command (Islamic Coalition Alliance); and Ahmed Albaiz, assistant supervisor general of operations and programs at KSRelief.
“We had an excellent discussion this morning on the humanitarian situation in Yemen. The UN is involved in Yemen in the world’s biggest humanitarian response operation. There is a serious humanitarian challenge as a result of the conflict over the past several years. The UN at the moment is delivering essential humanitarian assistance to record numbers of people," Lowcock said:
“Last May, we provided food assistance to 7.5 million people. We can only do that if we have cooperation from people on the ground. Above all, we can only do it if our response plan is financed. This year, our response plan is financed and the largest countries which provided the largest contributions of $930 million are Saudi Arabia and UAE. Other countries such as Kuwait, the US, the UK, and the EU have also continued to provide a high level of assistance,” he said.
He added that during the meeting they also discussed how to make the relief operation even more effective because there are still lots of people who need help despite the progress they are making. “What the humanitarian relief does is reduce suffering and save lives. However, on its own, it does not provide a solution to the underlying problems. 
“The single most important thing that needs to happen in Yemen is progress with the mediation and conflict resolution which my colleague, the UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths, is responsible for. That is what is going to ease the difficulties and create opportunities for better lives for the people of Yemen.” 
Lowcock also talked about the current status of the operations in Yemen: “The UN operation is reaching every single one of Yemen’s districts and every part of the country. The biggest part of our program is on food assistance and preventing people starving. The cholera situation remains very difficult. "Yes, there is progress but we want to ensure it remains under control. There are a number of ports and land routes, which are important to bring relief supplies into Yemen. Hodeidah port is extremely important, it is open and we are bringing vessels and fuel and food. We are concerned not just about the eight million people we reached with our core support but about 10 million whose conditions are no better than those of the eight million, too many of whom are struggling to make a livelihood. Many of the public-sector workers have not been paid for a long time and we want efforts to be made by everybody to make sure that the commercial market is working. So the food supplies continue to be delivered but also that they have a livelihood. So they have income to buy food.”Al-Jabir emphasized that the humanitarian crisis in Yemen was owing to Iran-backed Houthis’ brutal acts against civilians including women, elderly and children. 
“These militias have destroyed a political resolution under the UN umbrella in 2014. However, the UN, humanitarian organizations, KSRelief, Red Crescent Society of the UAE, have put collaborative effort into improving people’s lives in Yemen. 
“Today we have Martin Griffiths, who is well supported by the international community and the Saudi-led coalition to achieve a political settlement to spread peace across the country, the handover of the militia’s weapons, and withdrawal of the militants from the country. What we have heard today is that there is progress when it comes to the UN response operation and there is improvement in the cholera situation but there is still lots to do. We want to also improve the local Yemeni humanitarian organizations to ensure delivery of aid to every Yemeni in and out the country."
Saudi Arabia has financially supported the World Central Bank with $2 billion as a deposit to support Yemen and to help stabilize the local currency there and positively impact the economy.


India and Saudi Arabia take bilateral relationship to new heights

Updated 21 February 2019
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India and Saudi Arabia take bilateral relationship to new heights

  • Indian PM Narendra Modi heralds Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit on a day that delivers a strategic partnership

NEW DELHI: India and Saudi Arabia have taken their bilateral relationship to new heights with a decision to set up a Strategic Partnership Council and hold a summit meeting every two years.

The move was agreed during discussions between Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Wednesday that yielded five memorandums of understanding in investment, tourism, housing, and information and broadcasting. 

The Saudi crown prince also announced a $100 billion investment in India in areas including energy, refining, petrochemicals, infrastructure, agriculture and manufacturing. 

Saudi Arabia is also investing in the IT industry, and India can help the Kingdom expand and strengthen its “IT footprint,” he said.

Meanwhile, New Delhi announced e-visa facilities for Saudi citizens to promote trade and tourism. 

The two leaders spoke one-on-one before the start of delegation-level talks. The Saudi crown prince’s visit has “given a new momentum to our age-old relationship,” Modi said in a joint press conference after the meeting.

Modi told the media that Saudi Arabia has agreed to become part of the International Solar Alliance, a group of “solar resource-rich countries” initiated by India to promote solar energy.

The “time has come to convert our energy relationship into a strategic partnership,” he said. “The biggest refinery in the world and Saudi participation in India’s strategic petroleum reserve elevate our relationship from a mere buyer-and-seller relationship.”

Speaking at the joint press conference, the Saudi crown prince agreed. “We are now diversifying our interests in petrochemicals and building storage capacities. We want to cooperate with India, and this will give a new momentum to our relationship,” he said.

The crown prince said that the tie between India and Saudi Arabia goes back in history and “flows in our blood.”

Recalling the visit of Modi to Riyadh in 2016, he said that “since then we have made great strides, and Saudi Arabia has made the investment of $44 million.”

Earlier in the day, the crown prince met with the media at the presidential palace. “The relationship between India and Saudi Arabia is in our DNA,” he explained. “Today, we want to be sure that the relationship is maintained and improved for the sake of both countries, and with the leadership of Mr. President and the Prime Minister, we can create good things for both countries.”

The crown prince expressed his admiration for Modi. “He is the elder brother and I am his younger brother.”

On the sidelines of yesterday’s talks, 400 business leaders from India and Saudi Arabia gathered in the capital under the banner of the Saudi India Forum to discuss opportunities for business cooperation.

“India and Saudi Arabia are undergoing a paradigm shift, and both countries need to cooperate strategically to realize the potential of the change,” said Dr. Faisal Al-Sugair, head of the Saudi Center for International Strategic Partnerships, in his inaugural address. 

“We want Indian companies to become strategic partners in Saudi Arabia’s march to realize (the) 2030 Vision.”

Yousef Al-Benyan, of the Saudi petrochemical company Sabic, said that “both India and Saudi Arabia are undergoing transformation, and at this stage we can do so many things together to realize the potential of the young generation.”

Azim Premji, of the Indian IT company Wipro, underlined the importance of “using India’s IT know-how” to access the knowledge and service industry in the country.

Indian foreign policy experts see the crown prince’s tour as a landmark development. “Mohammed bin Salman’s visit marks a paradigm shift in the relationship between New Delhi and Riyadh,” said Dr. Zakir Hussain, a New Delhi-based foreign policy expert. 

“The visit reveals  a mature partnership, and underscores the importance both countries place on each other’s growth and prosperity,” he said.