Houthi militants deny UN access to Yemen food aid

Retired Danish general Michael Lollesgaard the newly appointed head of the UN observer mission in war-wracked Yemen, meets local officials in the Red Sea port city of Hodeida on April 2, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 02 April 2019
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Houthi militants deny UN access to Yemen food aid

DUBAI: Yemeni rebels blocked the UN from accessing vital food aid near the flashpoint port city of Hodeidah, a pro-government source said Tuesday.
More than 100 workers were denied access to the Red Sea mills warehouse, said a source in the Arab coalition fighting on the side of the Yemeni government.
“Unfortunately, the Houthi (rebels) have decided to once again renege on a previous commitment, denying the team access to the mills,” the source told AFP.
In February, a team from the UN’s World Food Programme visited the Red Sea mills warehouse for the first time since September, when they became inaccessible due to the conflict between pro-government forces and the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels.
The WFP said laboratory tests confirmed the wheat had been infested with insects and had to be fumigated to feed million of people.
WFP spokesman Herve Verhoosel told AFP Tuesday the mission planned by the UN agency to the Red Sea mills was postponed due to “security reasons.”
Before the UN lost access in September the Red Sea mills held 51,000 tons of grain, which was enough to feed more than 3.7 million people for a month.
This comes after an agreement was struck in Sweden in February, in which Yemeni rivals agreed to redeploy their fighters outside the ports and away from areas that are key to the humanitarian relief effort.
The ports are in the rebel-held west of the country, and the agreement especially set out free access to the Red Sea mills warehouses, under control of d government forces.


Dispute disrupts reopening of revered Jerusalem archaeological site

Updated 2 min 34 sec ago
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Dispute disrupts reopening of revered Jerusalem archaeological site

  • The site was closed since 2010
  • Visitors were required to pre-register online

JERUSALEM: France reopened a revered but long-closed archaeological site in the heart of Jerusalem on Thursday, but a dispute over access immediately disrupted its reopening.
France, the owner of the site known as the Tomb of the Kings, reopened it to visits after having kept it closed since 2010.
But concerns that it would become more of a site of religious pilgrimage than an archaeological one immediately reemerged.
Around 15 people who had pre-registered online as required were allowed to visit, but a group of more than a dozen ultra-Orthodox Jews who consider the site holy pressed to enter and pray there despite not having followed procedures.
They were prevented from entering since French officials had limited visits to 15 people at once during set times due to the sensitivity of the site.
Ultra-Orthodox denied access pressed toward the gate when it was opened to try to enter.
The first group of visitors was initially blocked inside and eventually exited through a second gate, accompanied by police.
The incident highlighted concerns over the site and may bring into question whether it will remain open to the public.
France’s Jerusalem consulate had said in advance that the reopening would take place under pre-arranged rules.
The 2,000-year-old archaeological gem had been closed since 2010 due to renovations costing around a $1.1 million.
It is a remarkable example of a Roman-era tomb, considered among the largest in the region.
Its unique status, Jewish veneration of the burial site and its location in the disputed city added to complications in reopening it.
Archaeological sites in east Jerusalem, where the tomb is located, are often freighted with religious significance and questions linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israel occupied mainly Palestinian east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community.
It sees the entire city as its capital, while the Palestinians view the eastern sector as the capital of their future state.
There has been a challenge at Israel’s rabbinical court — which rules on matters related to Jewish law and holy sites — over access to the tomb and France’s ownership.
Before reopening the site, France sought guarantees from Israel it would not face legal challenges as well as commitments on how visits would be managed.
Ultra-Orthodox Jews describe the tomb as a holy burial site of ancient ancestors.