UN’s Syria envoy calls for immediate end to ‘alarming’ Daraa fighting

Jordan announced a day earlier the decision to close the Jaber/Nassib border post with Syria
Jordan announced a day earlier the decision to close the Jaber/Nassib border post with Syria "temporarily" as a result of security developments in the southern province of Daraa after the deadliest flareup in three years killed 28 people. (AFP)
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Updated 12 August 2021

UN’s Syria envoy calls for immediate end to ‘alarming’ Daraa fighting

Jordan announced a day earlier the decision to close the Jaber/Nassib border post with Syria "temporarily" as a result of security developments in the southern province of Daraa after the deadliest flareup in three years killed 28 people. (AFP)
  • Violence in southwest Syrian city escalated at end of July, forcing 18,000 civilians to flee area since
  • Ambassador Geir Pederson said ‘near siege-like’ situation in Daraa must end

LONDON: The UN’s special envoy for Syria has appealed for an immediate end to an “alarming” escalation of fighting in the country’s southwestern city of Daraa which has caused numerous civilian casualties and left thousands of people displaced.

Weeks of heavy shelling and ground clashes have resulted in food and medical shortages and around 18,000 people fleeing the area.

UN ambassador, Geir Pederson, said: “Thousands of civilians have been forced to flee Daraa Al-Balad. Civilians are suffering with acute shortages of fuel, cooking gas, water, and bread. Medical assistance is in short supply to treat the injured.”

He reiterated his call for an “immediate end to the violence” and for all parties to uphold the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure during the conduct of war “in accordance with international law.”

Daraa Al-Balad is a former opposition stronghold in the Daraa governorate, and the area witnessed a spike in hostilities toward the end of July.

The government then imposed strict movement controls on the city, however a truce between opposition fighters and government forces in the area has now all but collapsed.

Syrian President Bashar Assad has bolstered his forces in the area with additional soldiers and tanks which have shelled opposition-held districts, killing at least eight civilians, and forcing up to 18,000 people to escape from the fighting.

“Immediate, safe, and unimpeded humanitarian access must be granted to all affected areas and communities, including Daraa Al-Balad, and the near siege-like situation must end,” Pederson added.

More than 500,000 people have been killed in Syria since the civil war broke out in 2011. The conflict has passed through many stages, and despite recent flare ups, has now largely frozen, with various armed groups — backed by external actors — maintaining control over different parts of the country, most notably in the north.

Assad has been accused of multiple war crimes, including the deliberate targeting of civilians and the use of banned chemical weapons against enemy combatants and civilians. He has received the support of Iran and Hezbollah in order to stay in power.

Pederson said that he and his team would “continue to engage with all relevant parties on the ground and internationally to end the crisis.”

But he warned that in Daraa, “there is the potential for increased confrontations and further deterioration unless there is an immediate calm and a political way forward.”

The envoy also repeated his calls for all parties in the conflict to engage in a nationwide ceasefire and to pursue a political resolution to the war.


Jordan reports its highest daily number of COVID-19 cases to date as fourth wave rages

According to government figures, 4,556,988 people in Jordan have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, while 4,168,651 have received two shots. (Reuters/File Photo)
According to government figures, 4,556,988 people in Jordan have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, while 4,168,651 have received two shots. (Reuters/File Photo)
Updated 24 January 2022

Jordan reports its highest daily number of COVID-19 cases to date as fourth wave rages

According to government figures, 4,556,988 people in Jordan have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, while 4,168,651 have received two shots. (Reuters/File Photo)
  • An additional 11,478 cases have been confirmed, bringing the total in the country since the pandemic began to 1,152,526
  • Nearly 23 percent of tests returned a positive result, 18 percent above the 5 percent rate considered ‘safe’ by authorities

AMMAN: Jordan on Monday reported the highest number of daily COVID-19 cases in the country since the pandemic began, as the kingdom battles to contain a surging fourth wave of coronavirus infections.

Authorities said an additional 11,478 cases have been confirmed, bringing the total to 1,152,526, and another 15 people have died of conditions related to the disease. The death toll now stands at 13,088.

Nearly 23 percent of PCR tests returned a positive result, 18 percent above the 5 percent rate considered “safe” by the government.

A further 158 COVID-19 patients were admitted to hospital, while 107 have recovered and been discharged. A total of 714 people are currently receiving hospital treatment for the disease.

The government said occupancy rates of isolation beds by COVID-19 patients in the country’s northern, central and southern regions stand at 10 percent, 19 percent and 8 percent respectively.

According to government figures, 4,556,988 people in Jordan have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, while 4,168,651 have received two shots.


Algerian president in Egypt on official visit

Algerian president in Egypt on official visit
Updated 24 January 2022

Algerian president in Egypt on official visit

Algerian president in Egypt on official visit
  • Abdelmadjid Tebboune is on a two-day state visit
  • Egypt is the third Arab country that Tebboune has visited since he took office in December 2019

CAIRO: Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi received on Monday evening his Algerian counterpart Abdelmadjid Tebboune at Cairo International Airport.

Tebboune is on a two-day state visit, and is expected to discuss with El-Sisi Arab and African security issues, including the crisis in neighboring Libya.

The two presidents previously met in January 2020 on the sidelines of the Berlin conference on the Libyan crisis.

Egypt is the third Arab country that Tebboune has visited since he took office in December 2019, after Saudi Arabia and Tunisia.

El-Sisi received a written message from Tebboune last week after receiving Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra in Cairo.

El-Sisi and Lamamra discussed bilateral relations and Arab issues, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Libyan crisis.


Egypt not to blame for failure of Renaissance Dam talks: FM

Egypt not to blame for failure of Renaissance Dam talks: FM
Updated 24 January 2022

Egypt not to blame for failure of Renaissance Dam talks: FM

Egypt not to blame for failure of Renaissance Dam talks: FM
  • Sameh Shoukry: Egypt is always ready to resume negotiations with Ethiopia if there is a political will to reach an agreement
  • Egypt and Sudan reject Ethiopia’s insistence on filling the dam before reaching a binding agreement

CAIRO: Cairo is not to blame for the failure of negotiations over the filling and operation of Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry has said.

“Egypt is always ready to resume negotiations with Ethiopia if there is a political will to reach an agreement,” he added.

“Egypt is always keen to reach consensus between the three countries — Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia — and to reach a binding legal agreement in accordance with the rules of international law and international practices, in a manner that meets the needs of all parties, which is Ethiopia’s right to development, and the right of Egypt and Sudan to their share of the Nile waters.”

Negotiations between the three countries failed in April 2021 and have not resumed since. Egypt and Sudan reject Ethiopia’s insistence on filling the dam before reaching a binding agreement.


Egypt approves Merck COVID-19 pill, says to be produced locally

Egypt approves Merck COVID-19 pill, says to be produced locally
Updated 24 January 2022

Egypt approves Merck COVID-19 pill, says to be produced locally

Egypt approves Merck COVID-19 pill, says to be produced locally

CAIRO: Egypt approved Merck & Co’s COVID-19 pill Molnupiravir for emergency use, the country’s drug authority said on Monday, adding that the pill would be locally produced.
The drug will initially be manufactured by five local companies, to be joined later by several other firms, the Egyptian Drug Authority said in a statement.


Arab League calls for Houthis to be classified terror group

Arab League calls for Houthis to be classified terror group
Updated 24 January 2022

Arab League calls for Houthis to be classified terror group

Arab League calls for Houthis to be classified terror group
  • The league affirmed its support for “the UAE’s right to self-defense and to respond to aggression under international law”
  • The league also welcomed the UN Security Council’s “unified position” in condemning the Houthi attacks

CAIRO: The Arab League has urged the international community to classify Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia as a terrorist organization after last week’s missile and drone attacks on the UAE.

The call followed an emergency meeting of the Arab League on Sunday to discuss the “brutal and vicious terrorist attack on civilians and civilian targets.”

It said the attacks “constitute a violation of international law and international humanitarian law, and a real threat to vital civilian facilities, energy supplies and the stability of the global economy.

“They also constitute a threat to regional peace and security, undermine Arab national security, harm international peace and security, and pose a threat to international commercial shipping lines.”

The meeting welcomed the solidarity of countries, as well as regional and international organizations, with the UAE.

The Arab League also welcomed the UN Security Council’s “unified position” in condemning the Houthi attacks.

The meeting affirmed the league’s support for “the UAE’s right to self-defense and to respond to aggression under international law.”

It stressed “the need for the international community to stand united in the face of this terrorist act that threatens regional and international peace and stability, and to take immediate and decisive measures to deter the Houthi militias, in order to stop their repeated criminal acts in Yemen and the region.”