Houthis ‘putting pressure’ on UN aid organizations in Yemen

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The Arab coalition fighting in Yemen accused the UN of “biased” reports on air strikes that allegedly killed 26 children in rebel-held parts of the country. (AN Photo/Basheer Saleh)
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The Arab coalition fighting in Yemen accused the UN of “biased” reports on air strikes that allegedly killed 26 children in rebel-held parts of the country. (AN Photo/Basheer Saleh)
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The Arab coalition fighting in Yemen accused the UN of “biased” reports on air strikes that allegedly killed 26 children in rebel-held parts of the country. (AN Photo/Basheer Saleh)
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The Arab coalition fighting in Yemen accused the UN of “biased” reports on air strikes that allegedly killed 26 children in rebel-held parts of the country. (AN Photo/Basheer Saleh)
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The Arab coalition fighting in Yemen accused the UN of “biased” reports on air strikes that allegedly killed 26 children in rebel-held parts of the country. (AN Photo/Basheer Saleh)
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The Arab coalition fighting in Yemen accused the UN of “biased” reports on air strikes that allegedly killed 26 children in rebel-held parts of the country. (AN Photo/Basheer Saleh)
Updated 27 August 2018
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Houthis ‘putting pressure’ on UN aid organizations in Yemen

  • Al-Maliki urges UN bodies not to remain silent over Houthi violations
  • Saudi air defenses shoot down another missile fired toward Jazan

JEDDAH: The Arab coalition on Monday accused the Houthi militia of putting “pressures” on UN humanitarian organizations operating in Yemen.
Spokesman Col Turki Al-Maliki called on them not to remain silent on abuses committed by the the Iran-backed militants.
“We call on UN organizations in Yemen to be neutral and not tolerate violations,” he said, at e news conference in Riyadh.
The coalition is fighting in support of forces loyal to the internationally recognized government against the Houthis, which seized the capital Sanaa in 2014.
The UN, which has several of its aid agencies operating in the country, has called peace talks for next month.
But Al-Maliki said the coalition was surprised by some of the statements made by UN officials, who he said have taken wrong stances based on “false allegations.”
He referred to an attack on a fish market and hospital in Hodeidah earlier this month, which the coalition said was carried out by the Houthis. At least 55 civilians were killed and 170 injured.
Al-Maliki also said the UN failed to respond to accusations that the Houthis had seized control of warehouses used by an international aid organization. 
He said Yemen’s humanitarian ports are operating at full capacity and that air, land and sea permits are granted continuously, especially to aid relief vessels.
The Houthis have fired eight ballistic missiles toward Saudi Arabia in recent days, five of which were during the Hajj pilgrimage. 

On Monday, another ballistic missile was launched by the Houthis from Saada province in Yemen toward Jazan, in Saudi Arabia. The Royal Saudi Air Defense managed to intercept the missile and no injuries were reported, Al Maliki said. 

Al-Maliki said the Houthis are using prisons to train militants and schools and hospitals for military purposes.
“We continue to neutralize ballistic missile launchpads belonging to the militias,” Al-Maliki said. 
Last week the coalition destroyed a SAM-6 air defense system operated by the Houthi militias in Sanaa.
He also said the Yemeni national army has made a major advance in the province of Al-Bayda.


Vulture with GPS tracker held in Yemen on suspicion it was used for spying

Updated 25 April 2019
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Vulture with GPS tracker held in Yemen on suspicion it was used for spying

  • The bird migrated from Bulgaria, to Turkey, to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and then Yemen
  • Govt forces detained the bird on suspicion that the attached GPS tracker was a spy device for Houthi militants

SANAA: Griffon vulture Nelson crossed into war-torn Yemen in search of food but ended up in the hands of Yemeni fighters — and temporarily in jail for suspected espionage.
The sand-colored bird came down in the country’s third city of Taiz, an unusual move for a young vulture that can soar for long distances across continents in search of food and moderate weather.
Nelson, approximately two years old, embarked on his journey in September 2018 from Bulgaria, where his wing was tagged and equipped with a satellite transmitter by the Fund for Wild Fauna and Flora (FWFF).
But he seems to have lost his way, eventually coming down into Taiz — under siege by Houthi rebels but controlled by pro-government forces, who mistook Nelson’s satellite transmitter for an espionage device and detained the bird.
Forces loyal to the government believed that the GPS tracker attached to the bird may have been a spy device for the rebels.
Hisham Al-Hoot, who represents the FWFF in Yemen, traveled from the rebel-held capital Sanaa to Taiz to plead with local officials to release the helpless animal.
“It took about 12 days to get the bird,” he told AFP.
“The Bulgarian foreign ministry reached out to the Yemeni ambassador, who in turn contacted local officials (in Taiz) and told them to immediately give the organization the vulture.”
Hoot said that the bird migrated from Bulgaria, to Turkey, to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and then Yemen — where the FWFF lost track of the bird.
Nelson was MIA until April 5, when the conservation group received hundreds of messages from Yemenis concerned about the creatures’ welfare.
Today, the locally-famous vulture is being properly fed and getting stronger every day.
“When we first took him, he was in very bad condition,” said Hoot, adding that the bird was underweight.
Smiling, he puts on gloves and carefully handles the majestic creature — blowing it a kiss.
Hoot said the bird will be released in two months when he believed Nelson will have regained his full strength and his wing — broken somewhere during his journey — will have healed.
“We thought at first it would take six months for him to heal, but now we don’t think it will be more than two months,” he said.
Hoot said that Nelson was not able to find any source of sustenance in Yemen.
“They can eat carcasses of dead animals, but now there is no more with the current situation of war.
“This is what forced him to come down and stopped him from completing his journey.”
The four-year conflict in Yemen has unleashed the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, according to the United Nations, with millions facing famine.
The war escalated in March 2015 when a coalition, led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, intervened to bolster the efforts of Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.
Since then, at least 10,000 people — most of them civilians — have been killed and more than 60,000 wounded, according to the World Health Organization. Other rights groups estimate the toll could be much higher.