Libya airport reopens after brief rupture in cease-fire

Grounded air-planes sit on the tarmac at Mitiga International Airport in Tripoli. Rocket fire on August 11 hit the Libyan capital's sole functioning airport, violating a temporary truce between the unity government and forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar, airport authorities said. (AFP)
Updated 12 August 2019

Libya airport reopens after brief rupture in cease-fire

  • Khalifa Haftar and Tripoli govt agreed to a truce for Eid Al-Adha holidays

TRIPOLI: Flights have resumed from the Libyan capital’s sole functioning airport as calm returned on Monday to the outskirts of Tripoli after a temporary truce was violated the previous day.

“Reopening airspace at Mitiga International Airport after maintenance and cleaning ... so that airlines can renew their flights,” the facility’s management said late on Sunday on Facebook.

The Tripoli-based government and forces loyal to eastern commander Khalifa Haftar had agreed to a truce for the three-day holiday of Eid Al-Adha that began on Sunday.

Haftar launched an offensive to take Libya’s capital in early April, but encountered stiff resistance, resulting in months of stalemate in southern Tripoli’s outskirts.

Flights from Mitiga airport were suspended for several hours on Sunday after rocket fire hit the airport, a few meters from the runway where planes were parked.

Located east of Tripoli, Mitiga is a former military air base that has been used by civilian traffic since Tripoli International Airport suffered severe damage during fighting in 2014.

Mitiga is in a zone under the control of forces loyal to the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) and has often been targeted.

Haftar’s Libyan National Army and the GNA had on Saturday agreed to a UN-sponsored humanitarian truce for Al-Adha, although the GNA listed conditions, including a cessation of troop movements.

The GNA blamed Haftar’s forces for the attack on the airport, in which no casualties or serious damage were reported, and for a separate alleged attack in the Soug Al-Jomaa district of Tripoli.

Over the past four months, 1,093 people have been killed in the fighting and 5,752 wounded, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), while more than 120,000 people have been displaced.

Libya has been mired in chaos since a NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.


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

Updated 33 min 13 sec ago

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.”