UN special envoy awaits Houthis at Yemen peace talks in Geneva

The Houthi delegation failed in Geneva to arrive following a series of last-minute demands. (Reuters)
Updated 07 September 2018
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UN special envoy awaits Houthis at Yemen peace talks in Geneva

  • UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths is still working on getting the Ansarullah delegation to Geneva
  • The UN wants the government and the Houthi movement to work toward a deal to end the war

GENEVA: The United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths has discussed issues including prisoners, humanitarian access and the reopening of Sanaa airport with Yemen’s Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Yamani, a UN spokeswoman said on Friday.
But Griffiths, who began consultations with the Yemen government delegation in Geneva on Thursday, still awaits representatives of the Iranian-allied Houthi movement from the capital Sanaa, UN spokeswoman Alessandra Vellucci said.
“He is still working on getting the Ansarullah delegation to Geneva,” she said.
“Since yesterday (Thursday) he has been discussing with them confidence-building measures, including the issue of prisoners, humanitarian access, the re-opening of Sanaaa airport, in addition to economic issues,” she said.

The Houthi delegation rejected an offer to be transported by an Omani plane Friday after it was searched by the Saudi-led coalition.

The Yemeni government's delegation announced Friday that it will stay in Geneva regardless of whether the Houthis arrived or not. 

Meanwhile, Washington's ambassador to Yemen said Friday that the Geneva consultations will resume within two weeks if they do not start on Saturday. 
The United Nations announced on Thursday that Griffiths was not expected to hold any talks at its Geneva offices on Friday.
Two sources in the government delegation told Reuters on Thursday they had given the international envoy additional time to noon on Friday to persuade the Houthis to come to Geneva.
A Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen’s war against the Iranian-allied Houthis in 2015 to restore President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s internationally recognized government. Subsequent peace talks flopped.
Since then the humanitarian situation has worsened sharply, putting 8.4 million people on the brink of starvation and ruining the weak economy.
The United Nations wants the government and the Houthi movement to work toward a deal to end the war, remove foreign forces from Yemen and establish a national unity government.
The Houthis’ Al-Masirah TV reported on Wednesday that the coalition had prevented their delegation from flying from Sanaa to Geneva. The Houthis have accused the United Nations of not keeping a promise to transport wounded on the flight.
Hamza Al-Kamali, Yemeni deputy minister for youth, told reporters in Geneva on Thursday the flight clearance had been given three days earlier.


New social deal signed in Morocco, salaries to rise

Updated 26 April 2019
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New social deal signed in Morocco, salaries to rise

  • The minimum wage, currently 2,570 dirhams a month ($266), will be increased by 10 percent over two years from July
  • Last July King Mohammed VI urged the government to take “urgent action” to address social issues

RABAT: The Moroccan government on Thursday announced a “new social deal” with employers and the main labor unions, under which many workers will enjoy a pay rise.
The deal agreed by the General Confederation of Moroccan Businesses (CGEM) and the three main unions — the UMT, UGTM and UNMT — is the fruit of months of negotiations
The minimum wage, currently 2,570 dirhams a month ($266), will be increased by 10 percent over two years from July, except for the agricultural sector.
Government-paid family allowances will also rise.
Meanwhile public sector workers will be given a 300-500 dirham monthly pay increase over three years.
Of Morocco’s main trade unions only the Democratic Labour Confederation has not signed the social deal which, according to the government statement, is aimed at “improving spending power and the social climate.”
Last July King Mohammed VI urged the government to take “urgent action” to address social issues, in particular health and education in the north African country which has been hit by protests over employment and corruption.
Mohammed VI pointed to social support and social protection programs that “overlap each other, suffer from a lack of consistency and fail to effectively target eligible groups.”
After months of stalemate, the dossier was handed to the interior ministry at the beginning of the year and the final rounds of talks were held.
The social unrest began in October 2016 after the death of a fisherman and spiralled into a wave of protests demanding more development in the neglected Rif region and railing against corruption and unemployment.
Morocco is marked by glaring social and territorial inequalities, against a backdrop of high unemployment among young people. In 2018, it was ranked 123rd out of 189 countries and territories on the Human Development Index.