Yemen ports to open ‘within 24 hours’: Saudi envoy

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Saudi Arabia’s UN Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi
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Saudi Arabia’s UN Ambassador Abdullah Al-Mouallimi. (AFP)
Updated 14 November 2017

Yemen ports to open ‘within 24 hours’: Saudi envoy

NEW YORK: The Saudi-led military coalition fighting in Yemen will reopen some of the country’s ports and airports within hours, though a key aid route will stay shut until Riyadh clamps down on weapons smuggling, a Saudi envoy said on Monday afternoon in New York.
Riyadh’s ambassador to the UN, Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, told reporters that the government-held ports in Aden, Mukala and Al-Mokha, as well as airports in Aden, Seiyun and Socotra, would be opened “within the next 24 hours.”
“We would like to confirm that steps are being taken by the coalition… to start the process of reopening airports and sea ports in Yemen to allow for the safe transfer of humanitarian actors and humanitarian and commercial shipments,” said Al-Mouallimi.
Other ports, including Houthi-controlled Hodeidah — where some 80 percent of Yemen’s food supplies transit — will remain shut until a UN verification regime is reviewed to ensure no arms reach the Houthis, the ambassador added.
He called on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to send a delegation to Riyadh to “review current procedures to enhance and deliver a more robust verification and inspection mechanism aimed at facilitating the flow of humanitarian and commercial shipments while preventing the smuggling of weapons, ammunition, missile parts and cash.”
The Saudi-led coalition closed all air, sea and land access to Yemen last week following the interception of a missile fired toward the Saudi capital, saying it had to stem the flow of arms to Yemen’s Houthi rebel group from Iran.
Saudi Arabia has accused arch-foe Tehran of supplying the ballistic missile which was shot down near Riyadh airport without causing any casualties. Iran has denied the accusation. Al-Mouallimi pointed to the Iran-backed Hezbollah militia.
“Hezbollah is active in Yemen on the ground, and... they are active in supporting the Houthis in operating, preparing, reassembling such missiles and launching them — including the one that was launched into Saudi Arabia,” Al-Mouallimi said.
The UN and international aid groups have repeatedly critiqued the coalition in the past for blocking aid access, especially to northern Yemen, which is held by the Iran-aligned Houthis battling the Saudi-led coalition.
On Monday, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric warned that two thirds of Yemen’s population — more than 17 million people — rely on food handouts and said that unless the blockade is wholly lifted the “situation will deteriorate further.”
The UN’s World Food Programme will run out of rice in 111 days, while wheat stocks will end in 97 days, he said. “Unless the Red Sea ports in Hodeidah and Salif are open immediately, the UN will not be able to feed 7 million people every month,” Dujarric added.
More than 10,000 people have been killed in the war, which pits the internationally recognized government, backed by Saudi Arabia and its allies, against the Houthis and forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The Saudi-led coalition has been targeting the Houthis since they seized parts of Yemen in 2015, including the capital Sanaa, forcing President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to flee and seek help from neighboring Saudi Arabia.


Saudi body to help UN devise policies for sustainable living

Updated 13 August 2020

Saudi body to help UN devise policies for sustainable living

  • Saudi Green Building Forum granted accreditation as an observer to UNEP governing body

RIYADH: A professional association from Saudi Arabia will play a key policymaking role at a UN governing body addressing the importance of environmental needs.
Following careful assessment and consideration of the commitments and engagements of the Saudi Green Building Forum (SGBF), the nonprofit organization has been granted accreditation as an observer at the governing body of the UN Environment Program (UNEP). SGBF will play a role as an observer at all public meetings and sessions of the UNEP and its subsidiary organs.
Speaking to Arab News, Faisal Al-Fadl, founder of the nonprofit organization, said that the forum’s mission has been developing for the past 10 years and this accreditation was considered an important step in strengthening the role of Saudi civil society institutions, locally and internationally. This was in line with Vision 2030, which has not only played an integral role in the NGO’s mission but also paved the way for the Kingdom’s people to go the extra mile in building an advanced and resilient society.
SGBF was initiated in 2010 and established in 2014. In 2017, it became the first professional body from Saudi Arabia in consultative status with the UN.
“The Saudi Forum was an advocacy group with an honest voice to bridge the gap; through UNEP we now have the tools to become the policymakers,” Al-Fadl said. It is a challenge that the group founder says will be met by providing communities with the proper tools to implement commitments.
As the observing body on the environmental framework at the UNEP, SGBF’s role will include promoting its concepts and goals to be reflected within the community of change. For change to happen, people of a community at a grassroots level who have committed to the preservation of moral codes of conduct are key to changing mentality and behavior to guarantee a future for the next generations, Al-Fadl said.
“As an open platform, our role is being the honest voice of bridging the gap. Economic and social progress accompanied by environmental degradation and pandemics are endangering the very systems on which our future development and our survival depends,” he said.
SGBF represents the Kingdom and its call to communities, stakeholders, and policymakers to build on the principles of volunteering, advocacy and sustainable development.
For the NGO, their next step is increasing the engagement of civil society, finding solutions to the problem of volunteer integration in societies, and to prioritize and address social challenges for women, youth and the elderly, calling on member states to increase their role in building and developing practices that minimize the negative impact on the planet.
Al-Fadl added that protecting the planet and building resilience was not easy. Without bolstering local action, including volunteers to accelerate the implementation, it would be a long time until goals were met and result seen, he said.
“UN member countries have the responsibility in confronting the human crisis of inestimable proportions, which impose its heaviest tolls on the supply chain for those marginalized and
most vulnerable in cities and communities around the world,” Al-Fadl said.