Yemenis should not be punished for Houthi wrongdoings, say officials

Yemenis walk in a busy market in the capital Sanaa's old city, on February 25, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 29 February 2020

Yemenis should not be punished for Houthi wrongdoings, say officials

  • Yemeni officials said a suspension or reduction of aid in northern Yemen would aggravate the humanitarian crisis, and that civilians would pay the price

AL-MUKALLA: Needy Yemenis should not be punished for Houthi actions targeting humanitarian operations in the war-torn country and the UN should divert its activities to government-controlled areas, officials said.
Yemen’s Minister of Human Rights Mohammed Asker said international aid organizations had a duty to make sure that help reached those who needed it.
“The (international) organizations have a legal and moral responsibility when they request support for the needy in Yemen, to make sure that the donors’ money does not go to buying bullets that kill Yemeni children,” the minister told Arab News, adding that humanitarian operations inside Houthi-controlled areas had become a breeding ground for corruption due to a lack of transparency and accountability. “This is the net result of dealing with parties outside the framework of the state.”
His warning came as the UN threatened to reduce its operations in northern Yemen due to Houthi obstruction. USAID said it would suspend aid to Houthi-controlled areas if the militants did not leave aid workers alone.
Yemeni officials said a suspension or reduction of aid in northern Yemen would aggravate the humanitarian crisis, and that civilians would pay the price.
Jamal Balfakeh, the general coordinator of Yemen’s Higher Relief, an Aden-based government body responsible for handling humanitarian activities, said the international community should punish Houthis by relocating offices to Aden and dispatching aid through government-controlled areas.

HIGHLIGHT

Yemen’s warning came as the UN threatened to reduce its operations in northern Yemen due to Houthi obstruction.

“The UN should punish the real perpetrators not civilians,” he told Arab News, “and the greatest punishment is moving their operations to government-controlled areas. The UN can bring in aid through 22 sea and land corridors.”
He said that reports about the Houthi mishandling of aid and the militant group’s obstruction vindicated the government’s demand for the UN to investigate corruption.
“We have been warning the international community about the Houthi looting of aid since the first six months of the war,” Balfakeh added. “We have provided them with detailed reports about the scale of the Houthi plundering of aid and told them that Houthis divert aid to their fighters.” Yemen’s ambassador to the US, Ahmed bin Mubarak, said that UN officials used to complain in private about Houthi pressure.
“UN officials used to complain that Houthis attacked and blackmailed their workers,” he said. “But they could not confront the Houthis in public as they might disrupt aid.”
He said the government was pleased that UN and media reports reflected concerns about the flow of arms from Iran and the Houthi looting of humanitarian aid.

 


Stranded Egyptians return from Sudan, Kuwait and Qatar

Updated 08 July 2020

Stranded Egyptians return from Sudan, Kuwait and Qatar

  • More than 1,000 Egyptians returned from Kuwait, 308 from New York, 174 from Qatar, and 217 from Sudan
  • Sharjah-based airline Air Arabia announced it would be providing Egyptians in Jordan with a flight from Amman to Cairo on July 10

CAIRO: Hundreds of Egyptians who had been stranded overseas because of the COVID-19 pandemic returned to Egypt on Wednesday as the country reopened its airports, which have been closed for three months.

More than 1,000 Egyptians returned from Kuwait, 308 from New York, 174 from Qatar, and 217 from Sudan. The latter came through the Qastal border crossing, which reopened last month after Sudan closed its border in March.

Mustafa Abul-Magd, director general of preventive medicine in Aswan, said that COVID-19 tests were conducted at the quarantine location at the crossing, and that none of the returnees had tested positive.

Meanwhile, Sharjah-based airline Air Arabia announced it would be providing Egyptians in Jordan with a flight from Amman to Cairo on July 10. Egypt’s Minister of Civil Aviation Muhammad Manar Enabah had previously announced that national carrier EgyptAir and Air Cairo would be providing 315 flights to return 57,000 Egyptians stranded abroad. The Egyptian Embassy in Germany has also announced the resumption of flights between the two countries, meaning Egyptian expats there can also return home.

Minister of Immigration and Egyptian Expatriate Affairs Nabila Makram thanked all Arab countries for their support of Egyptian workers abroad during the COVID-19 crisis, and stressed that the whole country has worked to repatriate all Egyptians who wanted to return. “The Egyptian citizen is now prioritized in the country. The state has managed to deal with the anxieties of Egyptians abroad,” Makram said.

Journalist Hassan Al-Rashidi told Arab News that Egypt — with the help of several other countries — has “proven that it never forgets its citizens, even in times of crisis.”
Al-Rashidi added that the suspension of flights had had a major impact on tourism, which plays a huge role in Egypt’s economy. He said the resumption of flights would see many tourism jobs reinstated.