Saudi Arabia to organize virtual donors conference for Yemen in partnership with UN

KSRelief donations are distributed to Yemeni children. (KSRelief)
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Updated 31 May 2020

Saudi Arabia to organize virtual donors conference for Yemen in partnership with UN

  • The Kingdom called on donor countries to support efforts to make the conference a success
  • The UN on Thursday announced the conference in partnership with Riyadh, saying the aim is to raise some $2.4 billion

RIYADH: Experts have highlighted the pivotal role the 2020 Donors Conference for Yemen could play in saving the country and extricating it from its present state of division and dilapidated infrastructure.
The event, to be held virtually on June 2 under the directives of King Salman, is an extension of Saudi Arabia’s global humanitarian and development contribution. The Kingdom is urging other donor countries to participate. The UN said that the aim is to raise some $2.4 billion to pay for the world’s biggest aid operation.
“The conference will coordinate humanitarian efforts among all donors and related parties, and ensure that the Yemeni civilians who are in need will get access to aid,” said Dr. Basil Abdullah Bawazir, a legal expert on constitutional law and international relations.
He described Yemen’s humanitarian situation as “one of the gravest in modern history,” saying that around 80 percent of Yemenis have been negatively affected by the Houthi conflict and do not have direct access to food, clean water, shelter and health care services.
“The humanitarian conditions in Yemen have exasperated because (of) the uncertain political conditions,” he said. “While all parties in the country claim they want peace, we, as Yemenis, only see that the chances of peace are more remote than ever because the parties want to make the maximum gains from the raging war. We pin big hopes on the donors conference and hope the parties involved will ensure that all the needy in Yemen get access to aid.”
Bawazir believes that the conference’s outcome should be translated on the ground in the form of enhanced aid to the needy and impoverished civilians in Yemen, while also including Yemenis living in difficult conditions in other countries.
As the country suffers from the COVID-19 outbreak and does not have a robust health care system, Yemenis need all forms of support now more than ever, he said.
He called on the donors to discuss the political situation and conditions in Yemen to reach an effective resolution and reach the roots of the political problem.
“The biggest support this conference can give to Yemen is to stop the war and hold a ceasefire,” he added.
Dr. Aref Abuhatem, an information counselor at the Yemeni Embassy in Saudi Arabia, described the current situation in Yemen as “completely complicated and cruel.”
He said that the Houthi militias are more dangerous than the COVID-19 pandemic, and threaten country’s future and security, as well as that of the Gulf.
The Yemeni people want to know the mechanism used in distributing aid, especially given that around $23 billion was misappropriated by corrupt individuals from local and international UN organizations, he said.

FASTFACTS

• The 2020 Donors Conference for Yemen, to be held virtually on June 2 under the directives of King Salman, is as an extension of Saudi Arabia’s global humanitarian and development contribution.

• The Kingdom is urging other donor countries to participate. The UN said that the aim is to raise some $2.4 billion to pay for the world’s biggest aid operation. 

“Yemen’s situation is catastrophic. There is no healt care, no education, no electricity, no security and no water,” said Abuhatem.
He added that lessons should be learned from Iraq, which is controlled now by Iran. Yemen should be saved from Iran so that it does not suffer the same fate.
He said that the UN envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths interfered in the political decisions when he should not have done. “This happened because the political decision-making process in Yemen lost direction and Griffiths took advantage of the situation.”
Abdulrahman Al-Kaff, an energy expert, said the power infrastructure is in bad shape and cannot meet the public’s increasing demand, with only 40 percent of Yemeni people having access to power.
“Power outages are frequent because of attacks targeting the infrastructure. The conflict has led to the complete destruction of the infrastructure all over the country,” he said.
Al-Kaff hopes the conference will recommend the use of crude oil or gas for power production, and set conditions for financing solar power projects.
Speaking about the country’s turbulent north-south divide, Salah Salim bin Hamel, a member of a local council and a rights activist, said that the decision-makers in Yemen’s north believe that the president should be from the Zaydi minority.
“The people in the south believe that most legislative, executive and judiciary bodies are run by people from the north, which is not fair,” he said.
The people in the northern side of the country want one united Yemen, while people in the south want separation and two independent states.
“Yemen needs a magical solution to get out of this crisis because the current political, social and religious conditions are complex. There is so much division,” said Hamel.
One of the main challenges that might obstruct aid from reaching the needy people in Yemen is the absence of a database of the impoverished and the needy, said Hamel. Other reasons include tribalism, armed conflicts and displacement.


Harassers face ‘naming and shaming’ after Saudi Shoura Council ruling

Updated 01 October 2020

Harassers face ‘naming and shaming’ after Saudi Shoura Council ruling

  • It will help eliminate harassment in workplaces and public places as well as in schools

JEDDAH: Violations of Saudi Arabia’s anti-sexual harassment laws could be punished by “naming and shaming” following a decision by the Kingdom’s Shoura Council to approve a defamation penalty.

The council voted in favor of the penalty during its session on Wednesday after previously rejecting the move in March this year.

Council member Latifah Al-Shaalan said the proposal to include the penalty was sent by the Saudi Cabinet.

Saudi lawyer Njood Al-Qassim said she agrees with the move, adding that it will help eliminate harassment in workplaces and public places as well as in schools.

“The penalty will be imposed according to a court ruling under the supervision of judges, and according to the gravity of the crime and its impact on society,” Al-Qassim told Arab News.

“This will be a deterrent against every harasser and molester,” she said.

Al-Qassim said that legal experts are required to explain the system and its penalties to the public.

“The Public Prosecution has clarified those that may be subject to punishment for harassment crimes, including the perpetrator, instigator and accessory to the crime, the one who agreed with the harasser, malicious report provider, and the person who filed a malicious prosecution lawsuit,” she added.

“The Public Prosecution also confirmed that attempted harassment requires half the penalty prescribed for the crime,” said Al-Qassim.

In May 2018, the Shoura Council and Cabinet approved a measure criminalizing sexual harassment under which offenders will be fined up to SR100,000 ($26,660) and jailed for a maximum of two years, depending on the severity of the crime. 

In the most severe cases, where the victims are children or disabled, for example, violators will face prison terms of up to five years and/or a maximum penalty of SR300,000.

Incidents that have been reported more than once will be subject to the maximum punishment. 

The law seeks to combat harassment crimes, particularly those targeting children under 18 and people with special needs.

Witnesses are also encouraged to report violations and their identities will remain confidential.

The law defines sexual harassment as words or actions that hint at sexuality toward one person from another, or that harms the body, honor or modesty of a person in any way. It takes into account harassment in public areas, workplaces, schools, care centers, orphanages, homes and on social media.

“The legislation aims at combating the crime of harassment, preventing it, applying punishment against perpetrators and protecting the victims in order to safeguard the individual’s privacy, dignity and personal freedom which are guaranteed by Islamic law and regulations,” a statement from the Shoura Council said.

Council member Eqbal Darandari, who supports the law, said on Twitter that the defamation penalty has proven its effectiveness in crimes in which a criminal exploits a person’s trust.

“The defamation of one person is a sufficient deterrent to the rest,” she said.

Social media activist Hanan Abdullah told Arab News the decision “is a great deterrent for every harasser since some fear for their personal and family’s reputation, and won’t be deterred except through fear of defamation.”

The move will protect women from “uneducated people who believe that whoever leaves her house deserves to be attacked and harassed,” she said.

“Anyone who is unhappy with this decision should look at their behavior.”