Houthis ‘still break international law’ despite confidence-building measures: Arab Coalition

Human rights groups have condemned Houthis for recruiting child soldiers. (AFP/file photo)
Updated 04 December 2018
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Houthis ‘still break international law’ despite confidence-building measures: Arab Coalition

  • Arab coalition spokesman says wounded militiamen flown to Oman as part of peace effort
  • The coalition has so far rescued and rehabilitated 102 children turned into armed fighters by Houthi militias

RIYADH: The Arab Coalition supporting Yemen’s internationally recognized government condemned the Houthi militia on Monday for violating international law.

The Houthis continue to plant improvised explosive devices in schools, including Al-Sharaf School in Hodeidah, said coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki.

The coalition is continuing its efforts to rescue and rehabilitate children recruited as fighters by the Houthis, in cooperation with Yemen’s legitimate government, the Red Cross, the Red Crescent and human rights groups, he added.

The coalition has so far rescued and rehabilitated 102 such children, he said, adding that the rehabilitation period takes at least three months.

Rehabilitation includes disarming the children, providing them with medical and psychological treatment, and returning  them to their families under the government’s supervision. 

Meanwhile, the Houthis have been denying ships access to Hodeidah port for the past three days, said Al-Maliki. 

The coalition supports efforts by UN special envoy Martin Griffiths to reach a political solution to the Yemen crisis, the spokesman added.

The coalition agreed to the evacuation of wounded Houthi fighters to Oman for medical treatment out of “humanitarian considerations and as part of confidence-building measures” ahead of UN-sponsored peace talks in Sweden, Al-Maliki said.

Griffiths arrived in Sanaa on Monday to escort the Houthi delegation to the talks, which might start on Wednesday, said two sources familiar with the matter.

A UN-chartered flight took off at 6 p.m. carrying the wounded Houthis, their escorts and a team of doctors to Oman, a security source at Sanaa International Airport told AFP. The Houthis had asked to travel on a plane not inspected by the Arab Coalition.

The Houthis launched 208 ballistic missiles at Saudi Arabia between March 26, 2015, and Dec. 3, 2018, Al-Maliki said. 

The Yemeni National Army has made great progress against the Houthis in various parts of the country, he added. Between Nov. 26 and Dec. 3, 648 Houthi terrorists were killed, he said.


Jordan’s PM appeals for more aid as most Syrian refugees set to stay

Updated 20 February 2019
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Jordan’s PM appeals for more aid as most Syrian refugees set to stay

  • Jordan PM says most refugees not returning yet
  • Amman says funding crucial to keep economy afloat

AMMAN: Jordan’s Prime Minister Omar Al-Razzaz appealed on Wednesday to major donors to continue multi-billion dollar funding for Syrian refugees in the kingdom, saying most of those who had fled the eight-year conflict had no intention of returning any time soon.
Razzaz told representatives of major Western donors, UN agencies and NGOs that relatively few refugees had gone back since Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s army last summer regained control of southern Syria, where most had fled from.
“The number of refugees that so far returned voluntarily is low and most have no intention of going back any time soon,” Razzaz told a meeting to launch a UN-funded government plan that earmarks $2.4 billion in funding needs for 2019.
Officials say only around 10,000 refugees out of a total estimated at 1.3 million had left since the two countries opened the vital Nassib-Jaber border crossing last October.
Razzaz echoed the UN view that unstable conditions inside Syria, where large-scale destruction, fear of retribution and military conscription has made many reluctant to return.
“We are now entering a new phase of the Syrian crisis, however the impact is still ongoing. The conditions for their return are not present,” Razzaz added.
The prime minister warned against donor fatigue in a protracted crisis where the needs of refugees and vulnerable Jordanians were largely unchanged.
Maintaining funding that covers education, health and crucial services for tens of thousands of Syrian refugees and local communities was crucial to ease rising pressures on the debt-burdened economy, he added.
“Aid helped Jordan in staying resilient in a difficult regional setting,” Razzaz said, adding the refugee burden had strained meagre resources such as water and electricity, with a donor shortfall covered from state finances.
Jordan is struggling to rein in record public debt of $40 billion, equivalent to 95 percent of gross domestic product, under a tough International Monetary Fund (IMF) austerity plan.
Major donors say more than $6 billion had been extended to Jordan since 2015, which economists credit for rejuvenating once sleepy northern border towns, while refugee entrepreneurship brought a pool of cheap labor and new skills, triggering a property boom and higher productivity.
The kingdom received around $1.6 billion last year alone.
“The level of funding to Jordan that still remains is exceptional in global comparison,” said UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Anders Pedersen, adding needs had evolved from the humanitarian aid required early in the conflict to development projects that benefit the economy.