UN: Yemen’s warring parties reach preliminary pullout deal

A displaced Yemeni girl sits next to an armoured military vehicle at a camp in the Khokha district of the western province of Hodeidah. (AFP)
Updated 08 February 2019
0

UN: Yemen’s warring parties reach preliminary pullout deal

UNITED NATIONS: Yemen’s warring parties reached a preliminary compromise on a plan for the redeployment of opposing forces from the key port of Hodeidah, the United Nations said Thursday.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the preliminary agreement was reached by representatives of Yemen’s government and Houthi rebels meeting on a UN vessel in Hodeidah’s inner harbor during UN-mediated talks between Feb. 3-6.
He said the head of the UN monitoring mission “tabled a proposal that proved acceptable, in principle ... pending further consultations by the parties with their respective leaders.”
Dujarric said he couldn’t give details, but he said the UN monitoring team expects to reconvene the warring parties “within the next week, with the aim of finalizing details for redeployments.”
Retired Dutch Maj. Gen. Patrick Cammaert, the outgoing head of the UN operation monitoring the cease-fire and redeployment of forces from the Hodeidah area that both sides agreed to in Sweden in December, chaired this week’s initial meetings, Dujarric said.
His replacement, Danish Lt. Gen. Michael Lollesgaard, attended the meetings and has now taken over.
The agreement in Sweden was seen as a key step in attempts to end the conflict in Yemen, which began with the 2014 takeover of the capital Sanaa by the Iranian-backed Houthis.
The fighting in the Arab world’s poorest country has taken a terrible toll on civilians, with thousands killed and a catastrophic humanitarian crisis under way.
UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock said in a statement Thursday that the UN and its humanitarian partners are scaling up to reach 12 million people with emergency food, a 50-percent increase over 2018 targets.
He said the Red Sea Mills in a government-controlled area of Hodeidah has enough grain to feed 3.7 million people for a month, but the UN has been unable to gain access since September while the grain possibly spoils in silos.
He deplored that last month two silos were hit by mortar shells and the resulting fire destroyed some grain — “probably enough to feed hundreds of thousands of people for a month.”
Lowcock said the Houthis have refused to authorize the United Nations to cross front lines into government-controlled areas to access the Red Sea Mills, citing security concerns.
Discussions are continuing with both sides and Lowcock implored the Houthis and their affiliates “to finalize an agreement and facilitate access to the mills in the coming days.”


Lebanese budget protesters clash with security in Beirut

Updated 20 May 2019
0

Lebanese budget protesters clash with security in Beirut

  • Over one hundred protesters gathered Monday outside the Government House in downtown Beirut
  • Lebanon faces a looming fiscal crisis as the economy struggles with soaring debt

BEIRUT: Security forces opened water cannons on Lebanese anti-austerity protesters in the country’s capital on Monday, as the government continued to hold marathon meetings to discuss severe budget cuts.
Lebanon faces a looming fiscal crisis as the economy struggles with soaring debt, rising unemployment and slow growth. The government’s tightened budget and key reforms aim to unlock billions of dollars in pledged foreign assistance. But planned cuts have unleashed a wave of public discontent, amid leaks that austerity could target public wages, services and social benefits.

A retired Lebanese soldier chants slogans while holding an army flag, during a protest in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday. (AP)

Over one hundred protesters gathered Monday outside the Government House in downtown Beirut shouting “Thieves, thieves!” as the Cabinet met for its 16th session and struggles to reach agreement.
Protesters pushed back against police lines and set fire to tires outside the building. At least two policemen and one civilian were wounded in the scuffles.
Among those demonstrating Monday were public and private school teachers and retired officers.
The government, headed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, has sought to calm nerves while also describing the upcoming budget as the most austere in Lebanon’s history.
Hariri said he hopes the government will be able to send the budget to parliament later this week.
Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said the cabinet made “important progress” in discussions Sunday.