UN Yemen envoy: Hodeidah troop redeployment slow but will happen

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Martin Griffiths said the cease-fire had reduced casualties in Hodeidah. (AFP file photo)
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Prince Khalid bin Salman, Saudi deputy defense minister, arrives at the Department of State for a meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in Washington, Thursday, March 28, 2019. Salman is the son of Saudi Arabia's King Salman and brother of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Updated 28 March 2019
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UN Yemen envoy: Hodeidah troop redeployment slow but will happen

  • Martin Griffiths says the cease-fire in the key port is holding
  •  Saudi Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman discusses the cease-fire with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

RIYADH: The UN envoy to Yemen said on Thursday the redeployment of rival factions in the key port city of Hodeidah is "slow" but will happen.

Martin Griffiths made the comments as Saudi Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman discussed the Yemen cease-fire deal with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington.

Prince Khalid and Pompeo "agreed on the need for parties to adhere to the agreement made in Sweden," the US State Department said. Pompeo expressed his appreciation for Saudi Arabia’s continued support for Griffiths’ efforts "to advance the political process in Yemen."

The deal between the Yemen government and Houthi militants was signed in the Swedish capital in December, and while leading to a reduction in hostilities in the city, it has since stalled.

Griffiths told The Associated Press that the cease-fire in the key port held seized by the militants near the start of the conflict is holding.

"As I've been reminded recently there are 50 percent fewer civilian casualties in Hodeidah since the cease-fire came into account than in the previous three months," Griffiths said. "So that's quite a change and that's good for the people of Hodeida, but we need to go further. We need to quickly see those redeployments happening."

Griffiths said the two sides are meeting daily to finalize details of the first redeployment from the Hodeidah port and two smaller ports. That will be followed by a second phase in which heavy weapons and ground forces will be removed from the city, he said.

Griffiths said if the first phase is successful, the ensuing demilitarization phase will be much easier. "Yes, it's slow, we shouldn't be surprised, but we need to keep the pressure up."
Griffiths told the Security Council last month that he is "optimistic" the cease-fire will hold and the redeployments will take place.

Hodeidah is the main entry point for aid to Yemen, where nearly four years of war has spawned the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

The war in Yemen started in 2014 when Houthi rebels swept the northern part of the country and forced the internationally recognized government to flee before seeking military intervention by an Arab coalition that inludes Saudi Arabia.

Griffiths warned that the alternative to peace is "unthinkable" humanitarian disasters.

"It is the possibility of famine, the increasing cholera that we are now seeing, and a massive humanitarian aid program which barely keeps pace with the growing needs of the Yemeni people," he said. "We can't allow that to replace peace in Yemen."

Yemen is the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with nearly two thirds of its people in need of some sort of aid and 3 million displaced. Thousands have died of malnutrition, preventable diseases and epidemics.


Council of Arab Interior Ministers calls for cooperation to alleviate suffering of terrorism victims

Updated 23 April 2019
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Council of Arab Interior Ministers calls for cooperation to alleviate suffering of terrorism victims

  • Mohammed bin Ali Koman says the situation requires the cooperation of all to alleviate the suffering of the victims and their families
  • He was commemorating Arab Day to raise awareness of the pain of victims of terrorist acts

TUNIS: Not only does the harm caused by terrorist crimes affect innocent victims, it also leaves their families and communities with psychological and social pain, the Secretary-General of the Council of Arab Ministers of the Interior has said.

This situation requires the cooperation of all to alleviate the suffering of the victims and their families and help them overcome their predicament, Dr. Mohammed bin Ali Koman said.

Koman was commemorating Arab Day to raise awareness of the pain of victims of terrorist acts, held every year on April 22 by the General Secretariat of the Council of Arab Interior Ministers, member states and the League of Arab States.

“Today is an opportunity to raise awareness of the pain and tragedies of victims of terrorist attacks and encourage all initiatives undertaken by official bodies and civil society organizations to alleviate their suffering,” he said.

“The effects of terrorist crimes have exceeded aggression against human lives and property to psychological and social impacts as well as affecting families,” he said.

“Terrorist crimes result in a continuous bleeding to the heart of affected communities, especially with the terrorist media being devoted to inspiring and promoting their criminal operations, which have affected thousands of victims, including children, women and the elderly.”

He hailed the efforts of the security services in their fight against terrorism and the great improvement in reducing its crimes in recent years, expressing his sympathies for the victims and his support for their families to overcome the aftermath of these crimes.

Koman stressed that the Council of Arab Interior Ministers has taken special measures to raise awareness about the pain of victims of terrorist acts, including the development of media programs to raise security awareness and improve citizens’ contribution to countering terrorist acts in implementation of the Arab counter-terrorism strategy. This was in addition to assigning the Arab bureau for security-related information activities, which operates under the General Secretariat of the Council of Arab Interior Ministers, to prepare media programs and materials to raise awareness about the dangers of terrorist acts and the suffering they cause.

He highlighted that the council’s efforts go beyond raising awareness to taking concrete measures to support the victims of terrorist acts, including members of the Arab security services and their families.

Koman said that these efforts include the establishment of an Arab security solidarity fund to cover the expenses of medical, social, and psychological support for Arab police and security personnel and their families, in addition to the development of a model for the organizational structure of a department in the security services specializing in psychological counseling.

“The department will be operated by social workers and psychologists who have the capacity to help victims overcome the pain and tragedy of terrorism,” he said.

Koman praised the efforts of Arab countries in assisting the victims of terrorist acts and alleviating their suffering, including providing financial and moral support and providing them with treatment and privileges, such as monthly wages, scholarships for their families and medals of honors to their martyrs.

He urged public and civil society institutions to develop awareness-raising efforts through holding seminars and organizing events to remember the suffering of the victims and provide them with social, psychological and financial support.

Koman concluded by saying a prayer for the victims harmed by terrorist acts and members of the security services who died foiling terrorist crimes and fighting terrorists.