Hunger threatens Lebanon if leaders don’t act, UK minister warns

Syrian refugees are pictured at a refugee camp in Marjayoun, southern Lebanon November 24, 2020. Picture taken November 24, 2020. (Reuters/File Photo)
Syrian refugees are pictured at a refugee camp in Marjayoun, southern Lebanon November 24, 2020. Picture taken November 24, 2020. (Reuters/File Photo)
Short Url
Updated 03 December 2020

Hunger threatens Lebanon if leaders don’t act, UK minister warns

Hunger threatens Lebanon if leaders don’t act, UK minister warns
  • James Cleverly, the Foreign Office minister for the Middle East, called it “a man-made problem which could have been prevented”

BEIRUT: Lebanon is on the verge of not being able to feed itself, a British minister warned on Thursday, as the country’s financial crisis hikes poverty and inflation.
James Cleverly, the Foreign Office minister for the Middle East, called it “a man-made problem which could have been prevented,” joining a chorus of voices who have blamed Lebanon’s ruling elite for failing to chart a path out of the crisis.
Since last year, the unprecedented meltdown has crashed the currency and wiped out jobs. Photos of people rummaging through dumpsters or selling their belongings online for food have circulated widely in recent months.
A COVID-19 spike and a massive port blast that killed around 200 people in August have compounded their woes.
“The most pressing danger is the risk to food security: Lebanon is on the verge of not being able to feed itself,” Cleverly, who met Lebanese officials in Beirut on Thursday, said in a statement.
“Four months on from the blast, Lebanon is threatened by a silent tsunami. Lebanon’s leaders must act.”
Comments about a looming end to subsidies, which have depleted already critical foreign currency reserves, have raised fears of shortages. Lebanon imports lots — including much of its domestic wheat consumption — and produces little.
Lebanon’s central bank and government have traded blame over the crisis. The bank can only maintain basic subsidies for two more months and the state should come up with a plan, Governor Riad Salameh said on Tuesday.
Caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab has said lifting subsidies on vital goods without helping the poor could cause “a social explosion.”
Cleverly said any end to subsidies would make things worse. “I reiterate my call to the leaders of Lebanon to do what is needed and deliver reforms,” he said. “The alternative will be horrific.”


Yemen’s government vows to mitigate effects of Houthi terrorism designation

Yemen’s government vows to mitigate effects of Houthi terrorism designation
A military vehicle is stationed on the tarmac of Yemen’s Aden airport. Yemen says the Stockholm Agreement has failed to bring peace to the country. (File/AFP)
Updated 18 January 2021

Yemen’s government vows to mitigate effects of Houthi terrorism designation

Yemen’s government vows to mitigate effects of Houthi terrorism designation
  • International community urged not to surrender to ‘blackmailing and intimidation’ 
  • Stockholm Agreement has failed to bring peace, Yemen PM said

AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s prime minister has vowed to address any impact on humanitarian assistance or the remittances of citizens abroad following the US move to designate the Iran-backed Houthis as a terrorist organization.

Maeen Abdul Malik Saeed also urged the international community not to surrender to “Houthi blackmailing” and intimidation.
Saeed defended his government’s strong support of the designation during a virtual interview with foreign journalists sponsored by the Sanaa Center for Strategic Studies.
He said that his government had formed a committee to handle any effects on the delivery of humanitarian assistance inside Houthi-controlled areas and the remittances of Yemenis abroad.
“We are determined to prevent any impact of the decision on the Yemenis. We have formed a committee to mitigate effects of the decision,” he said.
When the US announced its intention to designate the Houthi movement as a terrorist organization last week, Yemen’s government quickly urged the US administration to put the decision in place, predicting it would stop Houthi crimes and their looting of humanitarian assistance, and would smoothe the way for peace.
Referring to the impact of the US designation on peace talks between the Yemeni government and the Houthis, Saeed said that the decision would not undermine peace efforts. He said that the Houthis would be accepted as part of the Yemeni political and social spectrum when they abandoned hard-line ideologies and embraced equality and justice.

The Yemeni government agreed to go to Stockholm for reaching a solution to stop fighting and saving the city. This model has failed.

Maeen Abdul Malik Saeed, Yemen’s prime minister

“This is an important pressure card on them and a real definition of them,” he said, adding that the Yemenis would not allow the Houthi movement to rule them.
“Yemen would not be ruled by a racist and terrorist group,” he said.
Formed under the Riyadh Agreement, Yemen’s new government’s ministers narrowly escaped death on Dec. 30 when three precision-guided missiles ripped through Aden airport shortly after their plane touched down.
The government accused the Houthis of staging the attack, saying that missile fragments collected from the airport showed that they were similar to missiles that targeted Marib city in the past.
The prime minister said that the Yemeni government had offered many concessions to reach an agreement to end the war. It had agreed to engage in direct talks with the Houthis in Stockholm in 2018 despite the fact that the Yemeni government forces were about to seize control of the Red Sea city of Hodeidah. However, the Stockholm Agreement had failed to bring peace to Yemen, he said.
“The government forces were about to capture the city within five days maximum. The Yemeni government agreed to go to Stockholm for reaching a solution to stop fighting and saving the city. This model has failed,” Saeed said.
In Riyadh, Yemen’s president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi on Friday appointed Ahmed Obeid bin Daghar, a former prime minister and a senior adviser to the president, as president of the Shoura Council.
Hadi also appointed Ahmed Ahmed Al-Mousai as the country’s new attorney general.
Fighting continues
Heavy fighting between Yemeni government forces and the Houthis broke out on Sunday for the third consecutive day in contested areas in the districts of Hays and Durihimi in the western province of Hodeidah. Official media said that dozens of Houthi rebels and several government troops were killed in the fighting and loyalists pushed back three assaults by Houthis in Durihimi district.
In neighboring Hays, the Joint Forces media said on Sunday that the Houthis hit government forces with heavy weapons before launching a ground attack in an attempt to seize control of new areas in the district.
The Houthis failed to make any gains and lost dozens of fighters along with several military vehicles that were burnt in the fighting, the same media outlets said. Heavy artillery shelling and land mines planted by the Houthis have killed more than 500 civilians since late 2018, local rights groups said.