Martin Griffiths in Saudi Arabia for talks on Yemen

Martin Griffiths, the UN special envoy for Yemen. (AFP/File Photo)
Martin Griffiths, the UN special envoy for Yemen. (AFP/File Photo)
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Updated 23 February 2021

Martin Griffiths in Saudi Arabia for talks on Yemen

Martin Griffiths, the UN special envoy for Yemen. (AFP/File Photo)
  • Visit part of UN efforts in seeking a nationwide ceasefire in Yemen

LONDON: The UN envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths was in Saudi Arabia on Monday for a series of meetings with Yemeni and Saudi officials, according to a UN spokesman.

His visit comes as part of the organization’s efforts in seeking a nationwide ceasefire in Yemen, alleviate the humanitarian suffering, and resume the political process toward peace, the spokesman added.

On Sunday, Griffiths confirmed a round of Yemeni prisoner exchange talks ended with no agreement reached between warring parties, saying: “Although the parties did not agree to releases during this round of talks, they committed to keep discussing the parameters of a future expanded release operation.”

And last week, Griffiths said Houthi militia assaults on the Yemeni government’s last northern stronghold Marib must stop, while warning of a potential humanitarian disaster if hostilities did not cease.

Soleimani’s shadow
Qassem Soleimani left a trail of death and destruction in his wake as head of Iran’s Quds Force … until his assassination on Jan. 3, 2020. Yet still, his legacy of murderous interference continues to haunt the region

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‘We must cooperate’ to curb virus, avoid tough measures, Saudi Ministry of Interior warns

‘We must cooperate’ to curb virus, avoid tough measures, Saudi Ministry of Interior warns
A Saudi woman walks on a social distancing marker at a shopping center, as preventive measures against the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 3, 2020. (REUTERS)
Updated 19 April 2021

‘We must cooperate’ to curb virus, avoid tough measures, Saudi Ministry of Interior warns

‘We must cooperate’ to curb virus, avoid tough measures, Saudi Ministry of Interior warns
  • Makkah police arrest 13 people for violating isolation, quarantine instructions

RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Interior (MoI) announced on Sunday that authorities have detected a surge of “worrying” behaviors in the Kingdom since the beginning of Ramadan, warning citizens to avoid ignoring anti-coronavirus health measures.

At a joint press conference between the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Health (MoH) and the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, MoI spokesperson Lt. Col. Talal Al-Shalhoub warned that the rising number of coronavirus cases in the Kingdom could potentially lead to citywide lockdowns, as well as the banning of certain activities.
“We must cooperate and not trivialize the dangers. We do not want to have to resort to tough measures,” he said.
Al-Shalhoub added that the Kingdom was continuing to crack down on rule-breakers and those who violate safety precautions, including people using social media to spread misinformation about safety measures and ways to circumvent them.
Meanwhile, Makkah’s regional police spokesman said that 13 people were arrested in Jeddah and Taif for violating isolation and quarantine instructions after they tested positive for coronavirus.
Preliminary legal procedures were taken against them and their cases were referred to the Public Prosecution. The MoI previously warned that violators will face up to a two-year prison sentence, a fine of up to SR200,000 ($53,300), or both.
Ministry of Health spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly revealed that the Kingdom has seen a slight rise in the percentage of women contracting coronavirus, warning that the number of women coming forward to be vaccinated was lower than expected.
“We have also seen a rise in the number of female cases that become critical and end up needing intensive care. Women also make up 55 percent of the overall number of cases in the Kingdom,” he said.
The MoH announced that 917 new coronavirus cases were reported on Saturday, raising the total number of cases to 404,970.
There are now 9,445 active cases, 1,044 of which are in critical care.

INNUMBERS

404,970 Total cases

388,702 Recoveries

6,823 Deaths

Of the new cases, 402 were in Riyadh, 203 in Makkah and 131 in the Eastern Province. Baha and Jouf reported the lowest cases on Saturday, with just six cases each.
Al-Aly said that appointments for second vaccine doses would be automatically updated, following news that some appointments had been canceled. The Saudi strategy aims to immunize the largest number of people possible with at least the first dose, Al-Aly added.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announced that more than 15 million people have benefited from its Eatmarna app.
The ministry said that only people who have taken at least the first dose of the vaccine will be permitted to perform Umrah, or pray at either the Grand Mosque in Makkah or the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah.
Violators will be prosecuted for attempting to perform the pilgrimage without the proper permissions, officials said, adding that authorities are encouraging safety precautions in order to ensure safe, smooth, and seamless pilgrimages for all visitors.
There were 907 new recoveries reported in the Kingdom, raising the total number of recoveries over the course of the pandemic to 388,702. The Kingdom’s death toll rose to 6,823 after 13 new coronavirus-related deaths were recorded.
Almost 7.1 million coronavirus vaccines have been administered in Saudi Arabia so far.

The Kingdom is now delivering vaccines at a rate of about 1.32 per second, or 114,471 each day. About 20.3 percent of the Saudi population have now been vaccinated.

The last day saw the completion of 51,225 PCR tests, bringing the total number of tests conducted in the Kingdom to 16,174,957.

 


Saudi Arabia’s anti-corruption authority initiates a number of criminal cases

Saudi Arabia’s anti-corruption authority initiates a number of criminal cases
Updated 19 April 2021

Saudi Arabia’s anti-corruption authority initiates a number of criminal cases

Saudi Arabia’s anti-corruption authority initiates a number of criminal cases
  • The authority said crimes of financial and administrative corruption do not fall under the statute of limitations

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Oversight and Anti-corruption Authority (Nazaha) said on Sunday it had initiated a number of criminal cases and legal procedures.
Among the most prominent cases, a retired major general and two retired employees from the Ministry of National Guard were arrested for obtaining SR198 million ($52.8 million) from local companies and one foreign company in return for helping them win contracts.
In the second case, the former director general of projects at the Ministry of Higher Education and five businessmen were accused of establishing companies and obtaining ministry projects through them, exaggerating prices, obligating other companies contracted with the ministry to deal with them, and obtaining funds. Work is underway to calculate the amount of money that was embezzled.
In the third case, an employee working for the Foreign Ministry was arrested for having disbursed approximately SR733,000, in an irregular manner, from an account of one of the Kingdom’s embassies.
In the fourth case, an employee of the Ministry of Information was arrested for issuing 328 media licenses and receiving around SR700,000.
Two employees at a regional branch of the Ministry of Finance were suspended after two citizens bribed them with SR126,000 out of a total amount of SR8 million agreed upon, in return for facilitating payment of financial compensation.
In the sixth case, three employees in the Education Department in one of the governorates were suspended for obtaining SR624,000 in cash installments from a businessman in exchange for facilitating access to seven projects amounting to SR3.2 million.
The seventh case was in cooperation with the Ministry of Justice, where a notary was arrested in one of the regions for issuing a lost deed in an irregular manner to one of his relatives.
In cooperation with the Ministry of Interior, an officer with the rank of captain working in a regional branch of the General Directorate for Narcotics Control was arrested for obtaining SR35,000 from an expatriate, in exchange for holding a case related to his brother.
A further case involved a bank employee in one of the Kingdom’s governorates who was suspended for obtaining SR21,000 from some of the bank’s clients in exchange for completing their financing procedures.
And the last case involved two employees working in a municipality who were arrested for receiving SR25,000.


Over SR300 million donated through Saudi Ihsan charitable campaign

Over SR300 million donated through Saudi Ihsan charitable campaign
Updated 19 April 2021

Over SR300 million donated through Saudi Ihsan charitable campaign

Over SR300 million donated through Saudi Ihsan charitable campaign
  • Donations from philanthropists inside the Kingdom accounted for 99%

RIYADH: More than SR300 million ($79.9 million) has been donated to the national platform for charitable giving “Ihsan” since Friday, Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.
Since its inauguration at the end of March, the Ihsan platform has received more than 3 million visitors, and has contributed to serving more than half a million beneficiaries through more than 200 official partners involved in the charitable sector.
Donations from philanthropists inside the Kingdom accounted for 99 percent of the total donations.
Ihsan also provided opportunities to donate outside the Kingdom for projects submitted by the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center.
“Ihsan works to support opportunities for donations and charitable projects in all regions of the Kingdom, and in various fields of charitable and humanitarian work,” the statement said.
It includes donation opportunities for education, health, housing and other fields by making use of modern technologies, which contribute to quick and easy access and achieving the highest standards of transparency and reliability, it added.
The national platform for charitable giving said it is continuing to receive donations from philanthropists during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.


Saudi Arabia co-chairs meeting on Chad debt under new G20 framework

Saudi Arabia co-chairs meeting on Chad debt under new G20 framework
Updated 19 April 2021

Saudi Arabia co-chairs meeting on Chad debt under new G20 framework

Saudi Arabia co-chairs meeting on Chad debt under new G20 framework
  • Chad is the first country to ask for debt overhaul under G20 common framework
  • It is expected to be a model for dealing with similar issues in the future

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has co-chaired the first creditor committee meeting to help Chad restructure its debts under a new G20 framework.
Chad requested the restructuring in January as it struggles with a high debt burden exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.
Chad is the first country to request the restructuring under the new Common Framework for Debt Treatments beyond the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI). The framework was agreed in November by the G20 under Saudi Arabia’s presidency.
The meeting was also co-chaired by France and attended by the secretariat of the Paris Club and representatives from China, India, the IMF and the World Bank.
Saudi Arabia, which was represented by the finance ministry, affirmed its support for the successful implementation of the common framework and the important role of the IMF and international banks during this process.
The Kingdom said the meeting was important as it is the first test of the common framework for debt treatment, which is expected to be a model for dealing with similar issues in the future.


KSrelief chief meets Swedish envoy for Yemen

Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, general supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center meets Swedish special envoy for Yemen Peter Semneby. (SPA) 
Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, general supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center meets Swedish special envoy for Yemen Peter Semneby. (SPA) 
Updated 19 April 2021

KSrelief chief meets Swedish envoy for Yemen

Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, general supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center meets Swedish special envoy for Yemen Peter Semneby. (SPA) 
  • KSrelief also continued distributing Ramadan food baskets to Lebanon and Pakistan

RIYADH: The General Supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah met with Sweden’s special envoy for Yemen Peter Semneby in Riyadh.
During the meeting, Al-Rabeeah, who is also adviser at the Royal Court, reviewed the 590 humanitarian and relief projects that the Kingdom has carried out through the center in Yemen.
Both sides also discussed matters of common interest related to humanitarian and relief affairs in Yemen and the efforts made to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people.
Semneby praised the pioneering role provided by the Kingdom through KSrelief in support of countries in need, and the special attention given to the Yemeni people.
Meanwhile, KSrelief distributed more than 27 tons of food baskets to displaced families in Yemen’s Marib governorate, benefiting 1,554 individuals. 
The center also continued distributing Ramadan food baskets to Syrian and Palestinian refugees and Lebanese families in Lebanon.
About 1,000 Ramadan food baskets were distributed in the Katarmaya area in Mount Lebanon, benefiting 5,000 people.
The center also distributed 1,713 Ramadan food baskets in Wadi Khaled in northern Lebanon, Arsal in northern Bekaa and Jiyeh in Mount Lebanon, benefiting 8,500 individuals.
KSrelief also continued distributing Ramadan food baskets in Pakistan. Nearly 1,200 Ramadan food baskets were distributed in the Sibi and Qalat districts of Balochistan region, benefiting 7,056 individuals.
KSrelief has implemented 1,556 projects worth more than $5 billion in 59 countries. The initiatives have been carried out in cooperation with 144 local, regional and international partners since the inception of the center in May 2015.
According to a recent KSrelief report, the countries and territories that benefited the most from the center’s various projects were Yemen ($3.53 billion), Palestine ($363 million), Syria ($305 million) and Somalia ($203 million).