Egypt to receive AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson vaccines next week

Egypt to receive AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson vaccines next week
A vial of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine (Janssen) can be seen next to syringes. (File/AFP)
Short Url
Updated 05 August 2021

Egypt to receive AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson vaccines next week

Egypt to receive AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson vaccines next week
  • Johnson & Johnson vaccine is being provided in cooperation with the African Union
  • As part of the health ministry's plan to expand the provision of vaccines, it is scheduled to receive the Pfizer vaccine later this month

CAIRO: Egyptian Minister of Health and Population Hala Zayed announced on Thursday that Egypt will receive shipments of AstraZeneca’s and Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccinations next week. The jabs will be distributed across the country, Zayed said.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is being provided in cooperation with the COVAX facility, the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund, Khaled Mujahid, assistant minister of health, explained, while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is being provided in cooperation with the African Union.

As part of the health ministry's plan to expand the provision of vaccines, it is also scheduled to receive the Pfizer vaccine later this month, and will distribute one million doses of the Sinovac vaccine over the next two weeks, Mujahid said.

Centers have been allocated to vaccinate those who want to travel abroad, he added, with 126 centers across the country equipped for data registration and the printing of certificates with QR codes.

He said vaccination reservations can be made through the ministry’s website and that an appointment for vaccination will be provided within 72 hours of registration.

Egypt has ordered around 120 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, and production of around a million doses of the Sinovac vaccine has already begun at Egypt's Holding Company for Biological Products and Vaccines (VACSERA) factory in preparation to begin vaccinating citizens in August.

VACSERA is scheduled to produce more than 200 million doses of the vaccine by the end of this year — enough to achieve the government’s goal of vaccinating 40 million citizens and allocating surplus doses for export to regional allies.


UAE FM rebukes external involvement in Arab affairs

UAE FM rebukes external involvement in Arab affairs
Updated 16 sec ago

UAE FM rebukes external involvement in Arab affairs

UAE FM rebukes external involvement in Arab affairs
  • Khalifa Shaheen Almarar vows his country will counter violent extremism wherever it appears
  • ‘We can’t ignore Iran’s development of its nuclear and ballistic missile programs’

NEW YORK: The UAE on Monday issued a forceful rejection of external involvement in Arab affairs, and pledged to counter the “scourge” of violent extremism wherever it appears.

Speaking on the final day of the UN General Assembly, Khalifa Shaheen Almarar, the UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs, also said the Middle East must be a region free from weapons of mass destruction.

“In order to succeed in our efforts to end the cycle of conflict in the Arab region, crude regional interferences in Arab affairs — especially in Syria, Yemen, Libya and Iraq — must be halted,” he added.

“The illegal interferences have obstructed political processes, exacerbated humanitarian crises, and undermined regional and international stability.”

These regional problems, as well as transnational challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, require a coordinated and cooperative approach from Arab countries and the international community, he said.

“We need wise leadership to advance multilateralism, and to develop a united international position to address all common global challenges. It’s also imperative to have a genuine political will to overcome this difficult historical juncture, which requires putting differences aside and strengthening relations between states,” he added.

“As a priority, we must generate international momentum to prevent conflicts and avert political crises before they escalate.” Among those conflicts that require concerted action, he said, is the war in Yemen.

“We’ve seen genuine initiatives in this direction, the latest of which was presented by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to end the war in Yemen. For these efforts to be successful, all parties must demonstrate commitment and determination,” he added, noting however that “the Houthi militias continue their provocative and aggressive actions.”

Almarar also called for an independent Palestinian state along the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, and urged Israel to stop building settlements on Palestinian land.

However, he praised the era of reconciliation that the Abraham Accords, which established relations between the UAE and other Arab countries on one side and Israel on the other, have ushered in.

Struck a year ago, those agreements “stimulate economic growth and advance prosperity and stability in the region, especially for the younger generations, who deserve to look to the future with optimism and hope,” he said.

The youth are threatened by the advance of extremist groups in the region, he warned. “Groups such as the Houthis, Daesh, Al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood and Hezbollah continue their recruitment of new generations of young people,” he said. “As such, we won’t relent in our efforts to counter these scourges wherever they exist.”

Energy supplies, freedom of navigation and trade routes must also be protected, said Almarar, adding that the Middle East should be a region “free of weapons of mass destruction.”

In that regard, he said, reaching an understanding with Iran that effectively addresses the concerns of regional states is imperative, particularly because of the country’s advanced weapons programs.

“We can’t ignore Iran’s development of its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, as well as its interference in the region,” he added.

“Therefore, any future agreement with Iran should address the shortcomings of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action … and must involve the countries of the region.”

Three islands that Iran occupied illegally in 1971, he added, must also be returned to his country. “The UAE will never cease to demand its legitimate sovereignty over these islands,” he said.

Almarar also pledged to continue to work to fight climate change, which “remains one of the most pressing challenges.”

The UAE, he said, looks forward to the COP26 climate conference, hosted by the UK in Glasgow later this year, which will be vital in developing a “global response” to the challenge.

“The UAE seeks to work with its partners to find solutions and explore opportunities that reduce the effects of climate change, including seeking to host the COP28,” he added.


Houthis besiege thousands of civilians in Marib’s Al-Abedia

Houthis besiege thousands of civilians in Marib’s Al-Abedia
Updated 9 min 45 sec ago

Houthis besiege thousands of civilians in Marib’s Al-Abedia

Houthis besiege thousands of civilians in Marib’s Al-Abedia
  • Local government officials told Arab News that the Houthis besieged Al-Abedia area, south of Marib province

AL-MUKALLA: The Iran-backed Houthis have laid siege to thousands of civilians inside a government-controlled area in the central province of Marib.
Intensifying fighting for the energy-rich city of Marib has killed dozens of combatants during the past 24 hours.
Local government officials told Arab News on Monday that the Houthis besieged Al-Abedia area, south of Marib province, after their forces scored a string of territorial gains following a rapid assault on government troops, preventing people, including the sick, from leaving or entering the area.
“We have not been able to deliver humanitarian assistance to the 5,106 besieged families and children as the militias blocked roads and prevented them from even leaving for medical treatment,” Khaled Al-Shajani, the head of Marib’s office of the internationally recognized government’s Executive Unit for IDPs Camps, told Arab News by telephone.
He urged international organizations and powerful countries to pressure the Houthis to lift their siege and stop military operations to allow civilians to leave their homes.
The government official said that more than 1,043 families had also left homes in Hareb district, southeastern Marib, and sheltered in the city of Marib since earlier this month. This was adding more pressure to the large displacement camps in Marib that host more than 2 million people, he said.
Local military officials and media reports said on Monday that heavy fighting broke out between the Houthis and government troops in Al-Mashjah, Al-Kasarah, Hareb, Jabal Murad and Serwah as the Houthis escalated ground attacks and artillery fire on government troops defending the city of Marib.
Dozens of combatants, most of them Houthis, have been killed in the fighting or in airstrikes by Arab coalition warplanes.
“There are martyrs from the national army, but the Houthi deaths are much bigger,” a military official, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Arab News, noting that hundreds of Houthis have been killed since the weekend.
Yemeni officials say that they cannot put a number on Houthi deaths as most of the rebels are killed by the coalition’s warplanes behind the frontline or even before taking part in the fighting. The latest round of fierce fighting in Marib began in February when the Houthis renewed a major military offensive to seize control of the government’s last bastion in the densely populated northern half of the country.
The local authority in the northern province of Hajjah said that the death toll from the Houthi missile strike on a flame-lighting ceremony in Medi town on Saturday had risen to 12 people, including three military and security officials. The Houthis fired a ballistic missile on Saturday night at a gathering of government officials and civilians marking the 59th anniversary of the Sept. 26 revolution.
Another ballistic missile hit the city of Marib, destroying the house of the governor of Marib, Sultan Al-Arada.
The increase in fighting in Marib comes as government-controlled areas continue to record a high number of coronavirus infections.
The Aden-based national coronavirus committee on Monday announced 54 new cases, nine deaths and 42 recoveries in government-controlled areas, bringing the total number of cases to 8,988, including 1,703 deaths and 5,570 recoveries.


At UN, Syria accuses adversaries of using pandemic to ‘settle scores’

At UN, Syria accuses adversaries of using pandemic to ‘settle scores’
Updated 27 September 2021

At UN, Syria accuses adversaries of using pandemic to ‘settle scores’

At UN, Syria accuses adversaries of using pandemic to ‘settle scores’
  • FM Faisal Mekdad pledges to continue to fight to rid country of ‘terrorists’
  • Denounces use of chemical weapons despite their use by Assad regime to quell revolution

NEW YORK: Syria’s Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad has accused the country’s adversaries of using the coronavirus disease pandemic as an opportunity to attack Syria, and issued a warning to the US, Turkey, and the Syrian Democratic Forces that the Assad regime will use “all possible means” to expel them from the country.

Speaking on Monday, the final day of the UN General Assembly, Mekdad said that “the world has experienced unprecedented circumstances, where hospitals reached full capacity, millions of lives were lost, economies contracted” as a result of COVID-19.

But, he continued, “some used the pandemic to settle political scores. Others selfishly ignored the needs of others, choosing to believe they are alone on this Earth.”

The minister, who assumed office less than a year ago, denounced countries who allegedly “took advantage of the pandemic to scale up their unilateral coercive economic measures against those countries and people who differ from them.”

The Syrian representative did not name any state explicitly, but the US has implemented a sanctions regime against Syria and its leadership due to crimes committed over the course of the country’s brutal civil war — including the repeated use of chemical weaponry and other human rights abuses.

Mekdad also pledged that the Assad regime would continue the country’s fight against “terrorists” in Syria, and said those that “continue to support and invest in terrorists will be doomed to fail.”

Throughout his speech, he railed against the US, Turkey, and Israel, taking the opportunity to denounce Israel’s occupation of Syria’s Golan Heights, which was recognized as Israeli territory by the administration of the former US president, Donald Trump, but is considered Syrian by the UN.

He also accused both Turkey and the US of looting Syrian resources and occupying territory within the country. 

“Just as we managed to wipe out terrorists from the majority of Syrian territories, we will work to end the occupation with the same resolve and determination, using all possible means under international law,” said Mekdad.

In a thinly veiled threat against the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-led militia convened by the US to fight Daesh, Mekdad said: “As for the few seeking secession in northeast Syria, we warn them against harboring such illusions. By pursuing such ends, they align themselves with those plotting against Syria’s unity — and they will be dealt with accordingly.”

Mekdad also used his speech to rally against the use of chemical weapons, calling them “reprehensible and completely unacceptable under any circumstances by anyone, anywhere at any time.”

He explained that, for this reason, Syria signed up to multilateral conventions against the use of the weapons, and “fulfilled its obligations in record time.”

In 2013, a chemical weapon attack in rebel-held Ghouta, Damascus, attributed to the Syrian government, killed hundreds of people, with some estimates putting the death toll at over 1,500. 

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons also noted as recently as August this year that Syria still has not fulfilled all of its obligations under the chemical weapons treaties — including the requirement to declare what chemical weapons the regime still has stockpiled and where they are being held.

Syria has also ignored requests by the UN body to issue a visa for a team leader in its command post in the country, OPCW said, “which left the command post with only support staff from UNOPS (United Nations Office for Project Services) for the second time this year.”


Omani FM calls for more global attention on Yemen

Omani FM calls for more global attention on Yemen
Updated 27 September 2021

Omani FM calls for more global attention on Yemen

Omani FM calls for more global attention on Yemen
  • Al-Busaidi says that a cease-fire must be called on all sides to “fully resume” all humanitarian efforts “to provide for the needs of our brothers in Yemen
  • The foreign minister praised “the success of the reconciliation efforts led by the brotherly state of Kuwait”

LONDON: Oman’s Foreign Minister Sayyid Badr bin Hamad bin Hamood Al-Busaidi has told the UN General Assembly that the sultanate is focussed on ending the war in Yemen in cooperation with Saudi Arabia.

Al-Busaidi said that Oman is continuing “its tireless endeavors and working with the brotherly Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the UN, the US envoys for Yemen, and all the concerned Yemeni parties in order to end the war through a comprehensive and permanent cease-fire.”

The foreign minister added that a cease-fire must be called on all sides to “fully resume” all humanitarian efforts “to provide for the needs of our brothers in Yemen, in particular the areas of medicine, health care, food, fuel and housing.” 

Al-Busaidi said that Oman “joined our voice with everyone who believes in a comprehensive political settlement to the existing crisis in a way that restores stability and security while retaining the security of the countries of the region.”

He addressed regional security, referring to the AlUla summit last year, stressing that the sultanate “has welcomed and supported the positive developments that resulted from the AlUla summit that was held in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

The foreign minister praised “the success of the reconciliation efforts led by the brotherly state of Kuwait.”

Al-Busaidi continued on the theme of regional security by expressing Oman’s hope that “the Vienna talks on the Iranian nuclear program will lead to the desired consensus among all parties because we firmly believe that this will be in the interest of the region and the world.” 

Following his comments on Iran and its nuclear program, the foreign minister referred to the need to “ensure freedom of maritime navigation” to “enhance economic growth opportunities.”


Yemen FM urges UN to put financial pressure on Houthis

Yemeni Foreign Minister Ahmad Awad bin Mubarak. (Reuters/File Photo)
Yemeni Foreign Minister Ahmad Awad bin Mubarak. (Reuters/File Photo)
Updated 27 September 2021

Yemen FM urges UN to put financial pressure on Houthis

Yemeni Foreign Minister Ahmad Awad bin Mubarak. (Reuters/File Photo)
  • Ahmad Awad bin Mubarak calls Iran ‘part of the problem’ in backing proxy militias
  • Thanks friendly nations for help with COVID-19 vaccines but says more assistance needed

LONDON: Yemeni Foreign Minister Ahmad Awad bin Mubarak on Monday urged the international community to put more financial pressure on the Iran-backed Houthi militia, in an address at the UN General Assembly in New York.

He thanked UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on behalf of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi for his efforts to bring peace to Yemen, and congratulated its people on the anniversary of the 1962 revolution.

Bin Mubarak reminded the assembly that Yemen has been at war for seven years, with the Houthis supported logistically and militarily by Iran which, he added, aims to destabilize both Yemen and the wider region by backing armed sectarian proxy groups.

“This proves,” he said, “that Iran has been, and continues to be, part of the problem in Yemen, rather than the solution.”

He added that the Houthis have presided over a humanitarian crisis in their bid to enrich themselves, calling their coup an “autumn of suffering, injustice, oppression, destruction of political participation, suffocation of public freedom, raids on houses, explosion of schools and places of worship, chasing of opponents, torture of citizens and transforming of Sanaa — a city of history and coexistence — into a large prison for the Yemeni people.”

Bin Mubarak said Yemen’s economy has declined by over 50 percent since the start of the conflict.

He thanked Yemen’s neighbors and friends for trying to mitigate the effects of the Houthi military campaign.

“Houthi militias continue to impose more taxes and customs fees even between Yemeni cities, and they harness this to feed the war machinery and to pay salaries of their own people,” he said.

“Meanwhile, militias try to circumvent all rules to have access to goods and basic needs, even from humanitarian aid,” he added.

“All this money, estimated at $3.8 billion per year, in addition to the amounts garnered by warlords, is invested in recruiting children and involving them in the war.”

Bin Mubarak also accused the Houthis of attacking civilians and civilian infrastructure in Yemen as well as in neighboring Saudi Arabia.

He urged the international community to “shoulder its responsibility” to help “end the suffering” of ordinary Yemenis at the hands of the Houthis by “exerting pressure on the coup leaders and their sponsors … to put an end to the bloodshed and destruction.”

He said the Houthis have executed innocent Yemenis, including minors, in a manner he compared to Daesh and Al-Qaeda, adding that many, including journalists, languish in Houthi jails.

Bin Mubarak called for “more pressure” to be exerted on the Houthis to put money gained from tax and “pillage” into the country’s central bank, and asked the international community to stop the devaluation of Yemen’s currency. 

He also asked for the UN to “mainstream” international aid and other humanitarian efforts to kickstart the country’s recovery, and for a package of financial support to assist the government. 

Bin Mubarak urged countries to donate more vaccines to help Yemen, thanking the international community for their help so far but saying more needs to be done to safeguard the future of the globe against COVID-19.

He thanked Saudi Arabia for its assistance in setting up an interim Yemeni government in the port city of Aden.