Qatar opens new coast guard base

Qatar's coast guards take part in the inauguration ceremony of the new building of the General Directorate of Coasts and Borders Security, in northern Qatar Sunday. (AFP)
Updated 14 July 2019

Qatar opens new coast guard base

  • Commander of the US Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain attended the ceremony
  • Opening takes place amid tensions with Iran in the region's waters

SEMAISIMA, Qatar: Qatar inaugurated its largest coast guard base Sunday as a standoff between Iran and the United States continues to boost tensions in strategic Gulf waters.
Prime Minister Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani and commander of US Naval Forces in the Middle East Vice Admiral Jim Malloy attended the ceremony at the Al-Daayen naval base in Semaisima, 30 kilometers from Doha on Qatar’s eastern coast.
Qatar, a key US ally in the region, is home to Washington’s largest Middle East military base. But Doha has come under pressure for its close ties to Iran.
Malloy, commander of the US Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain, said the new base was “a wonderful opportunity for us to interface more strongly with the Qatari coast guard.”
Tensions in the Gulf — through which nearly a fifth of the world’s oil is transported — have spiked in recent weeks, with the US blaming Iran for multiple attacks on tanker ships in the region and Tehran shooting down an American drone.
The 600,000-plus square-meter site aims to “facilitate the securing of all territorial waters of the State and border posts,” the interior ministry wrote on Twitter.
It includes a “sophisticated seaport,” training and medical facilities, civil defense offices and operating rooms, the ministry added.
Asked whether the base could enhance US-Qatari coordination on Iran, Malloy said the move was “all about maritime security, that’s what our focus is.”
The US said Thursday it was discussing military escorts for vessels in the Gulf a day after armed Iranian boats allegedly threatened a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.
And on Friday Britain said it was sending a second warship to the Gulf and raising the alert level in the oil-rich region after Iranian gunboats threatened a UK supertanker.


UN warns of severe aid cuts in Yemen without new funds soon

Updated 22 August 2019

UN warns of severe aid cuts in Yemen without new funds soon

  • Donors have pledged $2.6 billion to meet the urgent needs of more than 20 million Yemenis
  • But UN humanitarian chief Lise Grande says less than half the amount has been received so far
UNITED NATIONS: The UN humanitarian chief in Yemen warned Wednesday that unless significant new funding is received in the coming weeks, food rations for 12 million people in the war-torn country will be reduced and at least 2.5 million malnourished children will be cut off from life-saving services.
Lise Grande said the UN was forced to suspend most vaccination campaigns in May, and without new money a “staggering” 22 life-saving programs in Yemen will close in the next two months.
At a UN pledging conference in February, donors pledged $2.6 billion to meet the urgent needs of more than 20 million Yemenis, but Grande said that to date, less than half the amount has been received.
“When money doesn’t come, people die,” she said in a statement Wednesday.
The conflict in Yemen began with the 2014 takeover of the capital, Sanaa, by Iran-backed Houthi Shiite rebels who control much of the country’s north. A Saudi-led coalition that includes the United Arab Emirates allied with Yemen’s internationally recognized government has been fighting the Houthis since 2015.
The fighting in the Arab world’s poorest country has left thousands of civilians and created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, leaving millions suffering from food and medical care shortages and pushing the country to the brink of famine.
UN deputy humanitarian chief Ursula Mueller told the Security Council on Tuesday that 12 million Yemenis have been assisted every month, “but much of this is about to stop” because only 34% of the UN’s $4.2 billion appeal for 2019 has been funded.
At this time last year, she said, 65% of the appeal was funded, including generous contributions from Yemen’s neighbors Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The UN humanitarian office in New York said Wednesday that Saudi Arabia and the UAE each pledged $750 million to its Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan for 2019.
Grande said the UN is grateful to donors who have lived up to their promises, and in half the districts where people were facing famine “conditions have improved to the point where families are no longer at risk of starvation.”
But she said of the 34 major UN humanitarian programs in Yemen, only three are funded for the entire year. Several have been forced to close in recent weeks, Grande said, and many large-scale projects designed to help destitute, hungry families have been unable to start.
Without new funds in the coming weeks, she said, 19 million people will also lose access to health care, including 1 million women who depend on the UN for reproductive health services. In addition, Grande said, clean water programs for 5 million people will have to shut down at the end of October and tens of thousands of displaced families may find themselves homeless.
“Millions of people in Yemen, who through no fault of their own are the victims of this conflict, depend on us to survive,” she said. “All of us are ashamed by the situation. It’s heart-breaking to look a family in the eye and say we have no money to help.”