Arab coalition in Yemen sets ceasefire in Aden as Saudi Arabia calls for talks

Members of the southern Yemeni separatist forces patrol a road during clashes with government forces in Aden Saturday. (Reuters)
Updated 11 August 2019

Arab coalition in Yemen sets ceasefire in Aden as Saudi Arabia calls for talks

  • Saudi foreign ministry calls for an emergency meeting in Jeddah
  • Saudi Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman calls for restraint and reason

JEDDAH: The Arab coalition supporting the government in Yemen called Saturday for a ceasefire in Aden where government troops and southern separatists have clashed for days.

The two forces are meant to be working as allies to defeat the Iran-backed Houthi militia, which control the capital Sanaa. 

Shortly after the coalition statement, the Saudi foreign ministry called for an emergency meeting in the Kingdom.

"The Coalition’s Joint Command is requesting an immediate ceasefire in Yemen’s temporary Capital, Aden," the coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki said. “The coalition will use military force against anyone who violates the decision.”

Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir said Saudi Arabia "will always be the greatest supporter of the brotherly Yemeni people, and will do everything in its power to return peace and stability to Yemen."

 

"We call on all Yemeni parties in Aden to respond to the Kingdom's immediate call for dialogue in Jeddah, put an end to the violence, unite ranks, and avoid dragging Yemen into further chaos," he said on Twitter.

"We reaffirm the Kingdom's support to the legitimate Yemeni government, and the interim capital, against any action that may disrupt the security and stability of Yemen, and create opportunities for terrorists to exploit," he said.

Prince Khalid bin Salman, Saudi deputy defense minister, urged the feuding pro-government forces to exercise "restraint and the primacy of wisdom and the interests of the Yemeni state." 

 

"We reject any use of weapons in Aden and disturbance of security and stability," he said on Twitter, adding that Saudi Arabia has "called for political dialogue with the legitimate Yemeni government in the city of Jeddah".

He reaffirmed Saudi Arabia's commitment "to support and maintain legitimacy in Yemen and to provide all means of support to the brotherly Yemeni people."

"The unfortunate developments in Aden caused disruption of humanitarian and relief work, which is not acceptable to the Kingdom," he said.

 

The alliance said the ceasefire would come into force at 1am on Monday and urged all sides to "retreat from the locations they have seized during the past few days without damaging public and private properties.”

The coalition, he said, "will not hesitate to face anyone that violates the announcement and continues to fight, undermine security and stability or targets government institutions in Aden.”

Al-Maliki said all parties should put the national interests of Yemen as a priority and make sure the Houthis or terrorist groups operating in the country do not divide them.

The Saudi foreign ministry said it had followed the followed "with great concern" the developments in Aden. 

"As a result, an invitation was sent out to the Yemeni government and the parties to the conflict in Aden to hold an urgent meeting in the Kingdom in order to discuss and resolve differences by resorting to dialogue," the ministry said.

The fighting erupted Wednesday when forces loyal to the Southern Transitional Council attempted to break into the presidential palace in Aden, AFP reported.

Reports Saturday said the STC and its paramilitary force had seized the presidential palace from the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

 


UN agency for Palestinian refugees on tenterhooks over probe

A Palestinian refugee holds a placard at a school belonging to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) in the town of Sebline east of the southern Lebanese port of Saida, on March 12, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 22 October 2019

UN agency for Palestinian refugees on tenterhooks over probe

  • UNRWA’s budget for this year is $1.2 billion, with around 90 percent of that being linked to paying for the 30,000 staff it employees, most of them teachers, doctors and nurses

BRUSSELS: The UN agency for Palestinian refugees is waiting anxiously on the outcome this month of a probe into alleged mismanagement that has dented its already severely depleted funding, one of its top officials said Monday.
The UN Relief and Works Agency hopes the results of the investigation will enable it to get past the scandal that has worsened a cash crunch threatening the school and health services it provides to 5 million Palestinians.
UNRWA’s director for West Bank operations Gwyn Lewis told AFP in Brussels: “We’re waiting with bated breath because it obviously has financial implications.”
She said the conclusions of the probe are expected to be delivered “around the end of October” to UN chief Antonio Guterres, who would then issue public and internal “follow-up steps.”
The timing is crucial as the agency’s three-year mandate is up for renewal this month, and money is tight.
UNRWA has been skating on very thin financial ice since last year, after US President Donald Trump decided to suspend, then yank entirely his country’s contribution to the agency’s budget, robbing it of its top donor.
Those woes were compounded by the allegations of abuse by the agency’s management, leading other key donors — the Netherlands and Switzerland — to snap shut their purses.
That has left the agency struggling to provide the schooling, medical and sanitary programs it runs for Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza.
According to a copy of an internal UN report obtained by AFP in July, senior management at UNRWA engaged in “sexual misconduct, nepotism, retaliation, discrimination and other abuses of authority, for personal gain.”

FASTFACT

The UN Relief and Works Agency hopes the results of the investigation will enable it to get past the scandal that has worsened a cash crunch threatening the school and health services it provides to 5 million Palestinians.

Lewis did not confirm those allegations, noting only “rumors” and leaks to the media.
“None of us have actually seen it,” she said of the report, adding: “Our sense is that it’s not about financial misappropriation or corruption, it’s linked to management and human resources issues.”
She did note that the agency’s deputy chief, Sandra Mitchell, had been replaced in August by an acting deputy commissioner-general tasked with strengthening human resources and financial oversight.
Lewis said she was in Brussels for two days of meetings with European Commission officials to shore up UNRWA’s mandate renewal and, importantly, to maintain funding.
Despite program cutbacks, the agency faces an $89 million shortfall for the rest of this year, she said, and “financial uncertainty” beyond that.
UNRWA’s budget for this year is $1.2 billion, with around 90 percent of that being linked to paying for the 30,000 staff it employees, most of them teachers, doctors and nurses. Making up for the pulled US funding was a “challenge,” she said.