Questions arise as WFP says it owned shipment seized in Yemen

Updated 17 February 2016
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Questions arise as WFP says it owned shipment seized in Yemen

RIYADH: The World Food Programme (WFP) on Tuesday said communications equipment that Coalition forces have stopped from entering Yemen on one of its chartered ships belonged to the United Nations.
The UN humanitarian organization said the Mainport Cedar, which was diverted to the Saudi port of Jazan on Feb. 11, was carrying a cargo of humanitarian relief supplies bound for the Houthi-controlled port of Hodeida.
But the WFP’s revelation only raised questions. Brig. Gen. Ahmed Asseri, the coalition’s spokesman, said the communications equipment discovered on the ship during an inspection were similar to that used by the Houthis.
Moreover, the equipment were not declared by the WFP.
“It sustains the militias in their combat. Why did they not declare it?” Asseri said by phone.
The vessel was carrying a container of medical supplies from the Netherlands and two containers of food from Iran, and had originated its journey in the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, Asseri said.
Saudi Arabia is leading an Arab coalition in a war against the Houthis and army forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh last March in an effort to restore President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to power.
It has imposed a naval blockade to stop weapons being imported.
The equipment included computers, satellite dishes, solar panels, encryption systems, individual communication devices and other material often used for military purposes and found by Coalition forces in Houthi bases on the Saudi border, Asseri said.
Coalition forces, who had imposed a blockade on Yemeni ports as part of its campaign, accuses Iran of supplying the Houthis with weapons. Iran denies involvement in the conflict.
In September, the coalition said it had seized an Iranian fishing boat carrying 18 anti-armored Concourse shells, 54 anti-tank shells, shell-battery kits, firing guidance systems, launchers and batteries for binoculars destined for the Houthis.
In view of the incident, Asseri said the coalition has asked the WFP to ‘review your procedures, review your personnel’ to make sure this does not happen again.
Abeer Etefa, senior spokesman for the WFP, confirmed that the agency had received a request by the colaition.
“WFP has been asked by the coalition forces to resubmit the paperwork regarding the humanitarian IT equipment,” she said in an e-mail.
Nearly 6,000 people have been killed in Yemen since coalition forces intervened in March last year to stop Houthis and Saleh’s forces from ousting the UN-recognized government of Hadi.

(Reporting By Angus McDowall and Sami Aboudi)


Syrian state media says drone destroyed over Damascus countryside

Updated 19 September 2019

Syrian state media says drone destroyed over Damascus countryside

  • A drone was destroyed over a village in the Damascus countryside

CAIRO: Syrian state media reported that a drone was destroyed on Thursday over a village in the Damascus countryside.
No other details were immediately available.