Turkey launches mass coronavirus vaccination

Turkey launches mass coronavirus vaccination
More than 1 million health workers in the country were among the first to get the jab. (File/AFP)
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Updated 15 January 2021

Turkey launches mass coronavirus vaccination

Turkey launches mass coronavirus vaccination
  • Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said it was an “absolute need to get the injection” to return to “old lives”
  • The country has recorded over 2.3 million cases of the virus, as well as 23,495 deaths

DUBAI: Turkey has launched a nationwide vaccination program against COVID-19 after the government approved emergency use of China’s Sinovac, local daily Hurriyet Daily reported.
More than 1 million health workers in the country were among the first to get the jab, after the country’s Science Board members were inoculated live on Jan. 13.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan received jab the next day.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said it was an “absolute need to get the injection” to return to “old lives,” but the vaccination was not mandatory.
Koca said the shots would be distributed fairly, in four stages, following priorities set by the Science Board.
The first and second stage of the inoculation drive involve health care workers, government officials, and the elderly. The last two stages aim to cover the rest of the population.
Turkey has an initial three million doses of Sinovac of the 50 million doses waiting to be delivered.
The country has recorded over 2.3 million cases of the virus, as well as 23,495 deaths.


Suffering of Syria detainees ‘unimaginable’: UN panel

Suffering of Syria detainees ‘unimaginable’: UN panel
Updated 42 min 46 sec ago

Suffering of Syria detainees ‘unimaginable’: UN panel

Suffering of Syria detainees ‘unimaginable’: UN panel
  • Almost every major party that has controlled territory in Syria since 2011 has committed detention-related violations and abuses
  • Report stressed that detainees continued to be mistreated in notorious detention facilities even as the conflict approached its 11th year

GENEVA: Thousands of civilians have been subjected to “unimaginable suffering” including torture, sexual violence and death in detention during a decade of conflict in Syria, United Nations investigators said on Monday.
Tens of thousands of civilians who were detained are unaccounted for, with no trace of their whereabouts, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria found.
The three-member panel’s report, based on more than 2,500 interviews conducted over 10 years, carried out investigations into more than 100 detention facilities.
It found that almost every major party that has controlled territory in Syria since 2011 has committed detention-related violations and abuses.
“Hundreds of thousands of family members have a right to the truth about their loved ones’ fate,” said commission chair Paulo Pinheiro.
“This is a national trauma that needs to be urgently addressed by action from the parties and the international community.”
The report stressed that detainees continued to be mistreated in notorious detention facilities even as the conflict approached its 11th year.
“These detainees have endured unimaginable suffering,” the commission said.
“This has been happening with the knowledge and acquiescence of the governments who have supported the different parties to the conflict.
“The fate of tens of thousands of civilians who were forcibly disappeared by Syrian government forces, many nearly a decade ago, remains unknown. Many are presumed to have died or been executed.”
Commissioner Karen Koning AbuZayd said parties to the conflict had, with few exceptions, failed to investigate their own forces, with the focus seemingly on concealing rather than probing crimes committed in detention facilities.
The report said that men, women, boys and girls detained by government or pro-government forces were subjected to inhuman treatment and torture, including rape.
“At least 20 different horrific methods of torture used by the government of Syria have been extensively documented,” the report said.
“These include administering electric shocks, the burning of body parts, pulling off nails and teeth, mock executions, folding detainees into a car tire and crucifying or suspending individuals from one or two limbs for prolonged periods, often in combination with severe beating.”
The authors called for all parties in the conflict to stop violations, immediately release certain categories of detainee and allow independent monitoring of detention facilities.
Its findings will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council on March 11.
The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria was mandated by the council to investigate and record all violations of international law since March 2011 in the country.
The commission has repeatedly accused the various sides of war crimes and in some cases crimes against humanity.
Since Syria’s civil war broke out in 2011, more than 387,000 people have been killed and millions forced from their homes.


UN launching donor conference amid fears of famine in Yemen

UN launching donor conference amid fears of famine in Yemen
Updated 01 March 2021

UN launching donor conference amid fears of famine in Yemen

UN launching donor conference amid fears of famine in Yemen
  • The UN warned that more than 16 million people in Yemen would go hungry this year
  • More than six years of war has created the world’s worst humanitarian disaster

CAIRO: The United Nations launched an appeal Monday for countries to fund its response to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, where more than six years of war has created the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.
At a pledging virtual conference, co-hosed by Sweden and Switzerland, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will appeal for $3.85 billion this year to address the impoverished Arab country’s dire needs in the country.
It is unlikely a response from donors will meet UN goals, given that the coronavirus pandemic and its devastating consequences have hit economies around the globe.
Yemen’s war started in 2014 when the Iran-backed Houthis seized the capital, Sanaa, and much of the country’s north. The Saudi-led, US-backed coalition intervened months later to restore the internationally recognized government.
The conflict has killed some 130,000 people and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian disaster. Half of Yemen’s health facilities are shuttered or destroyed, and 4 million Yemenis have been driven from their homes. The coronavirus pandemic, cholera epidemics and severe malnutrition among children have led to thousands of additional deaths.
Separately, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs warned that more than 16 million people in Yemen would go hungry this year, with already some half a million living in famine-like conditions.
Jan Egeland, the secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, who is on a week-long visit to Yemen, warned on Monday that aid groups were “catastrophically” underfunded and overstretched.
Last year’s UN pledging conference, raised $1.35 billion — a billion dollars short of what aid agencies said they needed. In 2019, the UN received around $3.6 billion in international donations for its campaign, short of its $4.2 billion goal.


UAE records 2,526 new coronavirus cases, 17 new deaths

UAE records 2,526 new coronavirus cases, 17 new deaths
Updated 01 March 2021

UAE records 2,526 new coronavirus cases, 17 new deaths

UAE records 2,526 new coronavirus cases, 17 new deaths

DUBAI: The UAE's Ministry of Health announced 2,526 new coronavirus cases on Monday, bringing the total number of recorded cases in the country to 394,050.

The ministry said the infected individuals are from various nationalities, are in a stable condition, and receiving the necessary care, in a statement released on state-run news agency WAM.

It also announced 17 deaths due to COVID-19 complications, bringing the total number of deaths in the country to 1,238.

An additional 1,107 individuals had fully recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries to 382,332.

The ministry said it conducted 175,033 additional COVID-19 tests over the past 24 hours.


Syria and Israel: secret negotiations over Golan for severing Iranian, Hezbollah ties

Syria and Israel: secret negotiations over Golan for severing Iranian, Hezbollah ties
Updated 01 March 2021

Syria and Israel: secret negotiations over Golan for severing Iranian, Hezbollah ties

Syria and Israel: secret negotiations over Golan for severing Iranian, Hezbollah ties
  • Officials involved in the negotiations confirmed to that the agreement “went further than any previous document”
  • Syria has not made any official statements regarding the talks

DUBAI: Syria and Israel were on the brink of signing a peace agreement in February 2011, right before the Arab Spring protests broke out in several states, newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported.
Officials involved in the negotiations confirmed to the outlet that the agreement “went further than any previous document,” and included Syria’s pledge to sever “military ties” with Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon and “neutralizing” any Israeli threat so they could reclaim the Golan heights after Israel occupied them in the 1967 war.
Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu negotiations were mediated by American envoy Frederic Hof, the report added. The late Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Muallem and legal advisor Riad Daoudi and former US Ambassador to Damascus Robert Ford joined at least two meetings.
Asharq Al-Awsat reported that at the time the then US President Barack Obama and his then former Vice President Joe Biden, current president, were aware of these secret negotiations, and that ex-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was heavily involved in them too. 
Syria has not made any official statements regarding the talks, but has repeatedly expressed commitment to restoring sovereignty over Golan heights while maintaining the “strategic relationship with Iran.”


Houthis fire ballistic missile towards neighborhood in Yemen's Marib

Houthis fire ballistic missile towards neighborhood in Yemen's Marib
Updated 01 March 2021

Houthis fire ballistic missile towards neighborhood in Yemen's Marib

Houthis fire ballistic missile towards neighborhood in Yemen's Marib

DUBAI: The Iran-backed Houthi militants have fired a ballistic missile towards a district in Yemen's Marib province killing one person and injuring two others, Al Arabiya TV reported Monday. 

The channel quoted a security source who said the attack targeted the Al-Rawda neighborhood.  

On Saturday, the Saudi-led coalition intercepted a Houthi ballistic missile targeting Riyadh, according to the official SPA news agency.