Russia blocks UN Libya statement singling out Haftar’s forces

Military vehicles of Misrata forces, under the protection of Tripoli's forces, are seen in Tajura neighborhood, east of Tripoli, Libya April 6, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 08 April 2019
0

Russia blocks UN Libya statement singling out Haftar’s forces

  • The offensive raised fears of return to all-out war in Libya and left a question mark over the UN-led effort to lay the groundwork for elections with the April 14-16 conference

UNITED NATIONS, United States: Russia on Sunday blocked a UN Security Council statement that would have called on forces loyal to Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar to halt their advance on Tripoli, diplomats said.
Moscow insisted that the formal statement urge all Libyan forces to stop fighting, but the proposed change was opposed by the United States, council diplomats said.
After a closed-door meeting on Friday, the council called on Haftar’s self-proclaimed Libyan National Army to “halt its military activity” in an agreed statement to the press.
Britain then proposed a more formal text for approval to the 15-member council that was opposed by Russia. All council statements are agreed by consensus.
The proposed statement would have called on Haftar’s forces to halt all military activity and for all forces to de-escalate, according to the text seen by AFP.
The draft also would have “called for those who undermine Libya’s peace and security to be held to account” and renewed support for a national conference to be held this month on holding elections.
Russia has been a key supporter of Haftar, along with Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
Fighting raged south of Tripoli on Sunday, three days after Haftar launched the offensive to seize the capital, now controlled by a UN-backed unity government and an array of militias.
The LNA said it had carried out its first air raid on a Tripoli suburb.
The UN mission in Libya called for a two-hour humanitarian pause in the fighting that appeared to have been ignored.
The health ministry in Tripoli said at least 21 people have been killed and 27 wounded in the fighting.
The offensive raised fears of return to all-out war in Libya and left a question mark over the UN-led effort to lay the groundwork for elections with the April 14-16 conference.
Libya descended into chaos during the 2011 overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi that has seen a bitter rivalry emerge between the Tripoli-based authorities and Haftar’s supporters in the east of the country.


Vulture with GPS tracker held in Yemen on suspicion it was used for spying

Updated 25 April 2019
0

Vulture with GPS tracker held in Yemen on suspicion it was used for spying

  • The bird migrated from Bulgaria, to Turkey, to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and then Yemen
  • Govt forces detained the bird on suspicion that the attached GPS tracker was a spy device for Houthi militants

SANAA: Griffon vulture Nelson crossed into war-torn Yemen in search of food but ended up in the hands of Yemeni fighters — and temporarily in jail for suspected espionage.
The sand-colored bird came down in the country’s third city of Taiz, an unusual move for a young vulture that can soar for long distances across continents in search of food and moderate weather.
Nelson, approximately two years old, embarked on his journey in September 2018 from Bulgaria, where his wing was tagged and equipped with a satellite transmitter by the Fund for Wild Fauna and Flora (FWFF).
But he seems to have lost his way, eventually coming down into Taiz — under siege by Houthi rebels but controlled by pro-government forces, who mistook Nelson’s satellite transmitter for an espionage device and detained the bird.
Forces loyal to the government believed that the GPS tracker attached to the bird may have been a spy device for the rebels.
Hisham Al-Hoot, who represents the FWFF in Yemen, traveled from the rebel-held capital Sanaa to Taiz to plead with local officials to release the helpless animal.
“It took about 12 days to get the bird,” he told AFP.
“The Bulgarian foreign ministry reached out to the Yemeni ambassador, who in turn contacted local officials (in Taiz) and told them to immediately give the organization the vulture.”
Hoot said that the bird migrated from Bulgaria, to Turkey, to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and then Yemen — where the FWFF lost track of the bird.
Nelson was MIA until April 5, when the conservation group received hundreds of messages from Yemenis concerned about the creatures’ welfare.
Today, the locally-famous vulture is being properly fed and getting stronger every day.
“When we first took him, he was in very bad condition,” said Hoot, adding that the bird was underweight.
Smiling, he puts on gloves and carefully handles the majestic creature — blowing it a kiss.
Hoot said the bird will be released in two months when he believed Nelson will have regained his full strength and his wing — broken somewhere during his journey — will have healed.
“We thought at first it would take six months for him to heal, but now we don’t think it will be more than two months,” he said.
Hoot said that Nelson was not able to find any source of sustenance in Yemen.
“They can eat carcasses of dead animals, but now there is no more with the current situation of war.
“This is what forced him to come down and stopped him from completing his journey.”
The four-year conflict in Yemen has unleashed the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, according to the United Nations, with millions facing famine.
The war escalated in March 2015 when a coalition, led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, intervened to bolster the efforts of Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.
Since then, at least 10,000 people — most of them civilians — have been killed and more than 60,000 wounded, according to the World Health Organization. Other rights groups estimate the toll could be much higher.