Yemen government demands Houthis release slain Saleh’s body

Martin Griffiths said congratulated the two sides for agreeing to take part in the talks. (AP)
Updated 06 September 2018
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Yemen government demands Houthis release slain Saleh’s body

  • President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi will demand the militias release Saleh’s body via a government delegation at the UN-sponsored talks in Geneva
  • Saleh, for decades the most powerful politician in troubled Yemen, was killed by Iran-backed Houthis in December

JEDDAH: Yemen’s government will demand the release of the body of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, killed by Houthi militias last year, at upcoming peace talks in Geneva, Yemen’s Information Minister Moammer Al-Eryan said on Wednesday.

Saleh, for decades the most powerful politician in troubled Yemen, was killed by Iran-backed Houthis in December.

President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi will demand the militias release Saleh’s body via a government delegation at the UN-sponsored talks in Geneva, which open Thursday, said Al-Eryan. “This is an important message that all within (Saleh’s) General People’s Congress should take into consideration to turn the page of the past and move forward toward the future to restore the state,” he tweeted.

Eryan said the government will also demand the release of Saleh’s sons, believed to be detained by the Houthis.

According to one of his relatives, Saleh was buried in his village outside of Sanaa in a funeral attended by 20 people under the strict watch of the Houthis.

Meanwhile, the UN envoy for Yemen said Wednesday that “consultations” in Geneva between the warring parties offered a “flickering signal of hope” after years of conflict. 

“The people of Yemen ... are desperately in need of a signal of hope. We would like to think that the work we will do together in these next days will begin to send a flickering signal of hope to them,” UN envoy Martin Griffiths said.

That meeting is expected to take place in a Geneva hotel, as are any other meetings that might happen on Thursday. 

“So we are not going to waste time, and we are looking forward to getting our friends from Sanaa here and participating fully in the consultations.”

Griffiths emphasized that the Geneva talks were “not formal negotiations,” but said they aimed to pave the way towards bringing the parties back to the negotiating table.

The talks also seek to put in place a range of so-called confidence-building measures, which could prisoner swaps and the vaccination of children, he said.

“There is a chance for some tangible progress,” he said, adding that he hoped to get the two sides to sit at the same table during the consultations, which are expected to last a couple of days.


Syrian children study on the ground in abandoned villa

Displaced Syrian children attend class at a makeshift school in the village of Muhandiseen, in the south western countryside of the Aleppo province, on September 24, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 25 September 2018
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Syrian children study on the ground in abandoned villa

  • Some sit with their knees drawn on a plastic woven carpet, their shoes neatly by its side

ALEPPO, Syria: In rebel-held northern Syria, displaced children sit or lie on the ground of an unfinished villa, bending over their notebooks to apply themselves as they write the day’s lesson.
Four teachers instruct around 100 children — girls and boys aged six to 12 — at the makeshift school in an opposition-held area in the west of the northern province of Aleppo.
Between the bare walls of the villa abandoned mid-construction, children sit or lie on sheets or plain carpets, their small backpacks cast by their side.
Dubbed “Buds of Hope,” the teaching facility has no desks, library or even working toilets.
Instead, the air wafts in from beyond the pine trees outside through the gaping windows in the cement wall.
Dressed in a bright blue T-shirt and jeans, her hair neatly tied back in a pony tail, a barefoot girl kneels over her book, carefully writing.
“This isn’t a school,” says 11-year-old Ali Abdel Jawad.
“There aren’t any classrooms, no seats, nothing. We’re sitting on the ground,” he says.
In one classroom, a gaggle of veiled young girls sit on a bench, as the teacher explains the lesson to one of their male counterparts near a rare white board.
In another, the school’s only female teacher perches on a plastic chair, as her students gather around on the floor, their backs against the wall.

Some sit with their knees drawn on a plastic woven carpet, their shoes neatly by its side.
The children — as well as their teachers — have been displaced from their homes in other parts of Syria due to the seven-year war, a teacher told an AFP photographer.
Some hail from Eastern Ghouta outside Damascus, a former rebel stronghold that fell back under regime control in April after a blistering offensive and surrender deals.
Others come from the central provinces of Hama or Homs.
A dry fountain lies in the courtyard outside the villa’s elegant facade, where girls link arms and swing around in a circle.
Schools in opposition-held areas are generally funded by aid organizations, but have in the past been hit by bombardment.
“We’re always scared of bombardment and of the situation in general,” says one of the teachers, giving his name as Mohammed.
The building lies in rebel-held territory adjacent to regime-controlled parts of Aleppo city to the east, but also the major opposition stronghold of Idlib to the west.
Some three million people live in the Idlib province and adjacent areas of the neighboring Aleppo and Latakia provinces, around half of them displaced by war in other parts of Syria.
Earlier this month, many feared a regime assault on Idlib, but last week Damascus ally Moscow and rebel backer Ankara announced a deal to temporarily halt it.