Yemen urges probe into fatal Sanaa migrant detention fire

The narrow waters between the Horn of Africa and Yemen have been a popular migration route despite Yemen's ongoing conflict. (AFP/File)
The narrow waters between the Horn of Africa and Yemen have been a popular migration route despite Yemen's ongoing conflict. (AFP/File)
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Updated 10 March 2021

Yemen urges probe into fatal Sanaa migrant detention fire

Yemen urges probe into fatal Sanaa migrant detention fire
  • Local Yemeni media reports and government officials said that “several hundreds” were killed or wounded
  • The fire on Sunday occurred in a detention center in Sanaa

AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s government and human rights activists have called for the formation of an international inquiry to examine the death of dozens of African migrants inside a detention camp in Houthi-controlled Sanaa on Sunday.

The Yemeni government has accused the Houthis of recruiting detained migrants to fight in the civil war. The migrants were said to have burned to death in a fire after  protesting against mistreatment and poor conditions inside a detention facility.

“We strongly condemn the horrific crime committed in migrant detentions run by the terrorist Houthi militia in the seized capital, Sanaa, which led to the death and injury of hundreds of them, who were buried in a mass grave — a Houthi attempts to cover up the crime,” Yemen’s Information Minister Muammer Al-Aryani said.

He added: “We call for a transparent and independent international investigation to reveal details of the crime and hold the perpetrators to account, pressure Houthis to stop recruiting and exploiting refugees in combat, release all detainees in respect of Yemen's obligations and ensure freedom of movement or voluntary return.”

The fire on Sunday occurred in a detention center in Sanaa, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said.

“The total number of migrants who died in the fire at the Immigration, Passports and Naturalization Authority Immigration Holding Facility remains unconfirmed, as official records have yet to be released. More than 170 people have been treated for injuries, with many in critical condition,” the IOM said in a statement seen by Arab News.

Local Yemeni media reports and government officials said that “several hundreds” were killed or wounded in the blaze and that Houthi rebels had suppressed information about the incident in order to avoid an international backlash.

Majed Fadhail, deputy minister of human rights, told Arab News that “up to 500 migrants” were killed or injured in the fire. Quoting local medical sources, the Yemeni news agency Yemen Press Network (Yazaan) reported that the number of deaths numbered 50, and that about 130 migrants, including dozens of critical cases, were injured.

The UN migration agency said that the cause of the fire was unclear. But an anonymous local source told Arab News that hundreds of migrants had staged a riot inside the overcrowded detention center to protest against mistreatment, long detention periods and poor conditions.

Migrants blocked doors with blankets and mattresses to prevent detention guards from entering rooms to suppress the riot,” the source said, adding that a guard threw an incendiary device inside the detention that ignited the blaze.

On Tuesday, the IOM warned that tightened security measures by Houthis had obstructed their teams from reaching the injured migrants, and demanded the rebels to allow medical access and release the remaining migrants.

“We are facing challenges accessing the injured due to an increased security presence in the hospitals. Humanitarian and health workers must be given access to support the treatment of those affected by the fire and others who have been receiving long-term care from IOM and partners,” said Carmela Godeau, IOM regional director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Yemen’s Foreign Minister Ahmed Awadh bin Mubarak sent his condolences to the Ethiopian government over the death of Ethiopian citizens in the fire, and vowed to provide them with medical care and hold the perpetrators accountable.

“We affirm we’ll make every effort with the relevant international organizations to reach the survivors, provide them with the necessary care, uncover the circumstances of this traumatic incident — for which Houthis are responsible — and hold those in charge accountable,” he said on Twitter.

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Egypt to avoid future water crises through investment, minister says

Egypt to avoid future water crises through investment, minister says
Updated 06 December 2021

Egypt to avoid future water crises through investment, minister says

Egypt to avoid future water crises through investment, minister says

CAIRO: Egypt will avoid water crises through investment and construction, Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Abdel-Aty has said.

In a presentation of the ministry’s strategy through 2050, Abdel-Aty also denied the “black propaganda” which asserts that “Egypt takes the lion’s share of Nile water.”

He said: “97 percent of our water resources come from the Nile and the rest is low percentages of rain and other outlets. Everyone must be aware of the importance of preserving water.”

As part of state efforts to avoid future water crises, the 2017-2037 strategy requires $50 billion in investment and financing, he added, saying that due to population growth, that figure could exceed $100 billion over the coming decades.

Abdel-Aty said: “The new legislation for the Water Resources Law was very necessary, and the executive regulations for this law are being prepared, and they may be completed for issuance within two or three months.”

Egypt’s water needs exceed 114 billion cubic meters annually, according to ministry statistics. Total water resources accounting for reused water numbers 80 billion cubic meters per year, while the total amount of water from renewable resources measures 60 billion cubic meters.

The ministry’s strategy will involve four main areas: Rationalizing water use, improving water quality, providing additional water sources and creating a climate for optimal water management.

“There is no doubt that the water crisis will worsen with time, but the state will not allow a water crisis to occur in Egypt. We will contribute to raising awareness of the importance of rationalizing consumption. There is an optimal utilization of water resources,” Abdel-Aty said.

“We are facing black propaganda that Egypt takes the lion's share of the waters of the Nile, and this is not true.”

He added that Egypt’s climate means that it does not have sufficient access to green water, unlike Ethiopia. “They also have more blue water, and there are lakes in Ethiopia that contain 50 billion cubic meters of water.”

Abdel-Aty said: “Efforts made by the state on the issues of good water management and rationalization have not happened since the days of Muhammad Ali. The political leadership is keen to take all measures aimed at the good management of water resources.”


Arab coalition carries out biggest operation in Marib in 24 hours

Arab coalition carries out biggest operation in Marib in 24 hours
Updated 06 December 2021

Arab coalition carries out biggest operation in Marib in 24 hours

Arab coalition carries out biggest operation in Marib in 24 hours
  • Action comes as the Arab coalition forces have been eliminating militia assets in recent weeks

RIYADH: More than 280 Houthi militia members were killed in one of the largest operations targeting the Iran-backed group in Marib in just 24 hours, the Arab coalition said Monday. 
The Arab coalition said it conducted 47 operations against the Houthi militants in Marib, during which34 Houthi vehicles were destroyed as well as ammunition storage sites, Al Arabiya TV reported.  
The action comes as the Arab coalition forces have been eliminating militia assets in recent weeks, including weapons and personnel.


UAE’s Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed meets with Iranian leader

UAE’s Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed meets with Iranian leader
Updated 06 December 2021

UAE’s Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed meets with Iranian leader

UAE’s Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed meets with Iranian leader

TEHRAN: Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the UAE’s National Security Adviser, met with Iranian president Ibrahim Raisi on Monday, state news agency WAM said in a report.
During the meeting, both sides discussed bilateral relations between the two nations and potential ways to enhance these ties. 
Al-Nahyan and Raisi also exchanged views on several issues of common interest.


Four Iraqi Kurdish fighters killed in attack blamed on Daesh

Four Iraqi Kurdish fighters killed in attack blamed on Daesh
Updated 06 December 2021

Four Iraqi Kurdish fighters killed in attack blamed on Daesh

Four Iraqi Kurdish fighters killed in attack blamed on Daesh
  • Five other Peshmerga fighters were wounded in the violence late Sunday in northern Iraq

BAGHDAD: Four Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters were killed in an attack blamed on the Daesh group, a security official said Monday, the third such assault in less than two weeks.
Five other Peshmerga fighters were wounded in the violence late Sunday in northern Iraq that targeted an outpost north of Kirkuk, the source said.
Kurdish army forces confirmed the deadly attack but did not say how Peshmerga fighters were killed in wounded, in a statement accusing Daesh of responsibility.
It was the third attack blamed on Daesh militants in less than two weeks against the Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq.
On Thursday, Daesh claimed responsibility for an assault south of the Kurdish capital of Irbil that killed at least nine Peshmerga fighters and three civilians.
At the end of November, five Peshmergas were killed in a roadside bombing also claimed by the militant group.
Daesh seized swathes of Iraq in a lightning offensive in 2014, before being beaten back by a counter-insurgency campaign supported by a US-led military coalition.
The Iraqi government declared the extremists defeated in late 2017, although the Daesh retains sleeper cells which still strike security forces with hit-and-run attacks.


Israel: Palestinian car-rammer wounds guard, is shot dead

Israel: Palestinian car-rammer wounds guard, is shot dead
Updated 06 December 2021

Israel: Palestinian car-rammer wounds guard, is shot dead

Israel: Palestinian car-rammer wounds guard, is shot dead
  • Palestinians have carried out dozens of stabbing, car-ramming and occasional shooting attacks in recent years
  • Most have been carried out by lone attackers with no known connection to militant groups

JERUSALEM: A 16-year-old Palestinian rammed a vehicle into an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank overnight, wounding a security guard before being shot and “neutralized” at the scene, the Israeli Defense Ministry said Monday.
Israeli media reported that the alleged attacker was killed, while a ministry official declined to comment further.
The attack came two days after a Palestinian from the occupied West Bank stabbed and wounded an Israeli man just outside Jerusalem’s Old City and tried to stab a Border Police officer before being shot and killed. Video taken by bystanders showed the police continuing to shoot the attacker after he had dropped to the ground and preventing medics from approaching him.
The shooting drew comparisons to a 2016 incident in which an Israeli soldier was caught on camera shooting a wounded Palestinian attacker who was lying on the ground. The soldier was imprisoned for several months in a case that divided the country.
The Israeli Justice Ministry said the two officers involved in Saturday’s shooting were brought in for questioning before being released without conditions. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and other top officials have praised the officers’ response to the attack.
Palestinians have carried out dozens of stabbing, car-ramming and occasional shooting attacks in recent years. Most have been carried out by lone attackers with no known connection to militant groups, which have praised the attacks without claiming responsibility for them.
Rights groups say Israel sometimes uses excessive force, killing suspected attackers who could have been arrested and did not pose an immediate threat. Israeli officials say forces must make split-second decisions in dangerous situations and that all such incidents are investigated.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 war. The Palestinians want it to form the main part of their future state. The territory’s 2.5 million Palestinian residents live under Israeli military rule, with the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority administering cities and towns.