Yemen government announces pay rise after mass protest

For more than a year, the government has been unable to pay salaries in the impoverished and war-torn country. (File/Shutterstock)
Updated 03 September 2018
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Yemen government announces pay rise after mass protest

  • For more than a year, the government has been unable to pay salaries
  • Protest organizers have called for further civil disobedience until the government instates measures to aid millions of Yemenis

ADEN: Yemen’s embattled government has agreed to raise the salaries of thousands of public-sector employees, including pensioners, after hundreds of people protested in Aden against the rising cost of living.
For more than a year, the government has been unable to pay salaries in the impoverished and war-torn country, as the local currency plummets against the dollar.
Late Sunday a cabinet meeting in Riyadh chaired by President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, who has lived in exile since 2015, approved “an increase in civil sector salaries, including retirees and contractors,” Yemen’s state-run Saba news agency reported.
It was not immediately clear when the raise would take effect.
The decision came hours after hundreds of people took to the streets of Aden, the southern province that now serves as the government’s de facto capital, burning tires and blocking main roads to demand government aid.
Protest organizers have called for further civil disobedience until the government instates measures to aid millions of Yemenis struggling to survive.
The riyal has lost more than two-thirds of its value against the dollar since 2015, when Saudi Arabia and its allies joined the government’s fight against Yemen’s Houthi rebels.
The economic downturn, along with a blockade on the rebel-held international airport and ports, has left Yemenis unable to afford food staples and bottled water.
In January, Saudi Arabia — Hadi’s main ally — announced a $2 billion bailout to help bolster the central bank. The riyal rose briefly that month but has since plummeted by a hefty 36 percent.
In 2016, more than one million civil servants lost their jobs as Hadi transferred the official central bank from Sanaa to Aden.
The rebels operate their own central bank from the capital, which they have controlled since 2014.
The Yemeni war has triggered what the UN calls the world’s largest single humanitarian crisis, with more than three-quarters of the population in need of humanitarian aid and 8.4 million at risk of famine.


Jumblatt expresses concern over torture of Syrian refugees

Syrian children are pictured at a refugee camp in the village of Mhammara in the northern Lebanese Akkar region on March 9, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 24 min 11 sec ago
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Jumblatt expresses concern over torture of Syrian refugees

  • Walid Jumblatt has expressed concern about Syrian refugees returning to their country from Lebanon
  • Jan Kubis: “The UN and the humanitarian community will continue to facilitate these returns as much as possible

BEIRUT: Lebanese Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt has expressed concern about reports that Syrian refugees returning to their country from Lebanon face torture and murder.

This coincides with a debate in Lebanon about whether Syrian refugees should return without waiting for a political solution to the conflict in their country. 

UN Special Coordinator Jan Kubis stressed after meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Monday the “urgent need to ensure the safe, voluntary and dignified return of Syrian refugees home, according to international humanitarian norms.” 

Kubis added: “The UN and the humanitarian community will continue to facilitate these returns as much as possible. Another very important message was also to support the host communities here in Lebanon.”

Mireille Girard, representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), on Monday said: “The reconstruction process in Syria may not be enough to attract refugees to return. We are working to identify the reasons that will help them to return.”

She added: “The arrival of aid to the refugees is an element of trust that helps them to return. Their dignity and peaceful living must be ensured.”

Social Affairs Minister Richard Kouyoumdjian said the Lebanese General Security “issued lists containing the names of refugees wishing to return to their homes, but the Syrian regime accepted only about 20 percent of them.”

He added: “The solution is to call on the international community to put pressure on Russia, so that Moscow can exert pressure on (Syrian President) Bashar Assad’s regime to show goodwill and invite Syrian refugees to return to their land without conditions, procedures, obstacles and laws that steal property and land from them.”

Lebanese Education Minister Akram Chehayeb said: “The problem is not reconstruction and infrastructure, nor the economic and social situation. The main obstacle is the climate of fear and injustice in Syria.”

He added: “There are 215,000 Syrian students enrolled in public education in Lebanon, 60,000 in private education, and there are informal education programs for those who have not yet attended school to accommodate all children under the age of 18.” 

Chehayeb said: “As long as the displacement crisis continues, and as long as the (Assad) regime’s decision to prevent the (refugees’) return stands … work must continue to absorb the children of displaced Syrians who are outside education to protect Lebanon today and Syria in the future.”