Yemeni forces launch massive new offensive to capture Hodeidah from Houthis

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Yemeni pro-government forces gather on a main road on the eastern outskirts of Hodeida, as they continue to battle for the control of the city from Houthi rebels on November 8, 2018. (AFP)
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Yemeni pro-government forces advance towards central Hodeida, as they continue to battle for the control of the city controlled by Huthi rebels, on November 8, 2018. (AFP)
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Yemeni pro-government forces gather in a highway as they advance towards central Hodeida, while they continue to battle for the control of the city controlled by Huthi rebels, on November 8, 2018. (AFP)
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Yemeni pro-government forces gather on the eastern outskirts of Hodeida, as they continue to battle for the control of the city from Huthi rebels on November 8, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 10 November 2018
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Yemeni forces launch massive new offensive to capture Hodeidah from Houthis

  • Trump’s administration is thinking about classifying the Houthi militia as a terrorist organization
  • Yemen’s government said its forces had advanced toward the north and western sides of Hodeidah

JEDDAH: Yemeni government forces fighting n have taken the main hospital from the Houthi militia in the strategic Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, government military officials said Saturday.
The May 22 Hospital lies in the east of the militia-held city, a key aid conduit that is the target of a renewed offensive by the Saudi and Emirati-backed government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

Yemeni government forces backed by the Arab coalition launched a “vast offensive” to take full control of Hodeidah on Friday.
The internationally recognized government based in the southern city of Aden said national army forces had advanced toward the north and western sides of the city.

“Fierce battles are taking place at these moments,” the statement said.

A total of 110 Houthi rebels have been killed in the last 24 hours of clashes in Hodeidah along with 22 pro-government troops fighting to retake the port city, AFP reported Friday.
The latest deaths raised to 382 the number of fighters killed on both sides since the battle for Hodeidah intensified on November 1.
The offensive follows a week of fighting as pro-government troops advanced into the city’s suburbs.
The Houthis have controlled Hodeidah since 2014 when they overran the capital Sanaa and the north of the country.
They have been driven out of virtually all of the south and much of the Red Sea coast by pro-government forces and the Arab coalition, which intervened to restore the government in 2015.
The offensive comes as it emerged Donald Trump’s administration is thinking about classifying the Iran backed Houthi militia as a terrorist organization, the Washington Post reported.
The move would be part of a US campaign to end the war in Yemen and put pressure on Iran.
The terrorist classification, which would be made by the State Department, has been discussed frequently since at least 2016. But the matter was reviewed recently as the White House tries to outline a tough stance on Iranian-linked groups across the Middle East, the newspaper reported.
A variety of potential actions that could be taken against the Houthi militia, including lesser measures to punish them, have been considered by the administration.
However, a decision has not yet been made and it is unclear how far deliberations about the terrorist classification had progressed.
Aid agencies have warned that the fighting in Hodeidah could further exacerbate the desperate humanitarian situation in the country.
The United Nations’ refugee agency said on Friday that most of the 600,000 population of Hodeida has fled but expressed concern about those trapped in the city.
The war in Yemen has become focussed in Hodeidah, the country’s biggest port and main point of imports, including aid.


Amnesty urges Lebanon to help end domestic worker abuse

An Asian domestic worker walks her employer's dog in the Lebanese capital of Beirut, on April 23, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 24 April 2019
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Amnesty urges Lebanon to help end domestic worker abuse

  • Ethiopia and the Philippines have banned their citizens from domestic work in Lebanon, but still their citizens find ways to come

BEIRUT: Amnesty International on Wednesday urged Lebanon to end what it described as an “inherently abusive” migration sponsorship system governing the lives of tens of thousands of foreigners working in private homes.
Domestic workers in Lebanon are excluded from the labor law, and instead obtain legal residency though their employers’ sponsorship under the so-called “kafala” system.
But activists say this leaves the maids, nannies and carers at the mercy of their employers and unable to leave without their permission, including in numerous documented cases of abuse.
“Amnesty International is calling on the Lebanese authorities to end the kafala system and extend labor protections to migrant domestic workers,” the London-based rights group said.
“The Lebanese parliament should amend the labor law to include domestic workers under its protection,” including to allow them to join unions, the group said.
Lebanon hosts more than 250,000 registered domestic workers from countries in Africa and Asia, the vast majority of them women.
In a report released Wednesday titled “Their house is my prison,” Amnesty surveyed 32 domestic workers employed mostly in and around Beirut, revealing “alarming patterns of abuse.”
Among them, 10 women said they were not allowed to leave their employer’s house, with some saying they were locked in.
Twenty-seven said their employers had confiscated their passports.
Many worked overtime, 14 were not allowed a single day off each week, and several had their monthly salaries revoked or decreased, despite it being a breach of their contracts.
The labor ministry introduced a standard contract for domestic workers in 2009, but the forms are often written in Arabic, a language they cannot read.
The government in late 2018 said it had translated the contracts into several other languages.
Amnesty registered eight cases of forced labor and four of human trafficking, the report said.
Six reported severe physical abuse, while almost all had been subjected to humiliating treatment and several were deprived of food.
“Sometimes I would get so hungry... I used to mix water with sugar when I was hungry and drink it,” one worker said.
With the abuse taking a toll on their mental health, six said they had contemplated or attempted suicide.
Only four of those interviewed had private rooms, while the rest were relegated to living rooms, storage rooms, kitchens or balconies.
“There is a man in the house who can enter the living room any time he wants,” said one worker who was forced to sleep in the living room.
Activists accuse the Lebanese authorities of being lax in bringing abusive employers to account.
Ethiopia and the Philippines have banned their citizens from domestic work in Lebanon, but still their citizens find ways to come.
In 2008, Human Rights Watch found that migrant domestic workers in Lebanon were dying at a rate of more than one per week from suicide or in failed escapes.
Many other countries in the Arab world also follow the “kafala” system for household workers.