Houthis seize dozens of relief trucks: Yemen minister 

Armed Yemeni men hold their weapons as they gather in the capital Sanaa to show their support to the Houthis. (File/AFP)
Updated 06 January 2019
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Houthis seize dozens of relief trucks: Yemen minister 

  • Houthi fighters seized 72 WFP relief tracks headed to the province of Ibb
  • Houthi militia are preventing the arrival of relief for those in need in areas under their control

Houthi fighters seized 72 World Food Programme (WFP) relief tracks headed to the province of Ibb on Saturday, Minister of Local Administration and chairman of the Higher Committee for Relief in Yemen said.

The WFP the food assistance branch of the United Nations.

The WFP had last week accused the Houthis of stealing food aid dedicated to people affected by the conflict in regions under militia control.

“The Houthis are carrying out systematic work against relief operations in Yemen, starving the Yemeni people and deprive them of the most basic rights,” Abdul Raqeeb Saif Fateh told Yemen’s state news agency, Saba New.

Houthi militia are preventing the arrival of relief for those in need in areas under their control, the minister said.

Fateh called on UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, Lise Grande to intervene and pressure the Houthis to return the seized relief trucks.

“The Yemeni government will bring cases to the international courts against the Houthis who directly starve the Yemeni people and contribute to the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in their areas of control,” he said. “The militia are the biggest violators of humanitarian operations in the world.”

The minister said the Yemeni government was working in coordination with donors and international organizations to ensure the delivery of relief aid and humanitarian materials to all governorates.

He requested the WFP implement an electronic fingerprint system in areas controlled by the Houthis to ensure better security for the distribution of aid and to avoid looting by the armed militia.

Fatah urged international relief organizations working in Yemen not to deal with the Houthis and to only deal with local organizations and partners which he said were “reliable, efficient, transparent and fair in their distribution.” 


Germany wants trial for Syria militants but warns of difficulties

Updated 18 February 2019
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Germany wants trial for Syria militants but warns of difficulties

  • ‘We must be able to ensure that prosecution is possible’
  • The minister noted that there is ‘no government in Syria with which we have a sensible relationship’

BERLIN: Germany vowed Monday to prosecute German Daesh fighters but warned that it would be “extremely difficult” to organize the repatriation of European nationals from Syria, after US President Donald Trump called on allies to take back alleged militants.
Syria’s US-backed Kurdish forces, which are battling Daesh group militants in their last redoubt in eastern Syria, hold hundreds of suspected foreign Daesh fighters and the calls for their reluctant home countries to take them back have grown in urgency.
“We must be able to ensure that prosecution is possible,” Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen told Bild daily.
Underlining the difficulties however of putting the ex-fighters on trial, the minister noted that there is “no government in Syria with which we have a sensible relationship.”
President Bashar “Assad cannot be our counterpart, the Syrian-democratic forces are not a unity government,” she added, stressing that proof and witness statements needed to be secured in Syria if the militants are to be put on trial.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said separately that a return could only be possible if “we can guarantee that these people can be immediately sent here to appear in court and that they will be detained.”
For this, “we need judicial information, and this is not yet the case,” Maas told ARD television late Sunday. Under such conditions a repatriation would be “extremely difficult to achieve.”
Berlin wants to “consult with France and Britain ... over how to proceed,” he said.
The subject is to be raised on Monday at a meeting of European foreign ministers called to discuss among other issues “the situation in Syria, in particular the recent developments on the ground,” according to an agenda for the talks.
Trump on Sunday called on his European allies to take back alleged militants captured in Syria.
Daesh imposed a self-declared caliphate across parts of Syria and neighboring Iraq from 2014, but has since lost all of it except a tiny patch of less than half a square kilometer near the Iraqi border.
After years of fighting Daesh, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) hold hundreds of foreigners accused of fighting for the group, as well as their wives and children.
Syria’s Kurds have repeatedly called for their countries of origin to take them back, but these nations have been reluctant.
“The United States is asking Britain, France, Germany and other European allies to take back over 800 Daesh fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial,” Trump said in a tweet.
After initial reluctance, Paris appears ready to consider the return of its nationals.
In Belgium, Justice Minister Koen Geens called for a “European solution” on Sunday, calling for “calm reflection and looking at what would be the least security risks.”