Aid workers face ‘alarming’ levels of incitement, violence in Yemen: UN humanitarian envoy

David Gressly marked World Humanitarian Day on Aug. 19 by highlighting the “extremely challenging” environment that aid workers face in war-torn Yemen. (Reuters/File Photo)
David Gressly marked World Humanitarian Day on Aug. 19 by highlighting the “extremely challenging” environment that aid workers face in war-torn Yemen. (Reuters/File Photo)
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Updated 19 August 2022

Aid workers face ‘alarming’ levels of incitement, violence in Yemen: UN humanitarian envoy

Aid workers face ‘alarming’ levels of incitement, violence in Yemen: UN humanitarian envoy
  • Gressly said that aid workers in Yemen — more than 95 percent of whom are Yemenis – work to ensure that 12.6 million people receive humanitarian assistance
  • In first half of 2022, one aid worker was killed, two injured, seven kidnapped and nine detained.

LONDON: Attacks on aid workers in Yemen have increased at an “alarming” rate, the country’s UN humanitarian coordinator said on Friday.

David Gressly marked World Humanitarian Day on Aug. 19 by highlighting the “extremely challenging” environment that aid workers face in war-torn Yemen, especially amid Houthi attempts to control food aid distribution.

In a statement, Gressly said that aid workers in Yemen — more than 95 percent of whom are Yemenis – work to ensure that 12.6 million people receive humanitarian assistance or protection support every month.

But in the first half of 2022, one aid worker was killed, two injured, seven kidnapped and nine detained.

Gressly also pointed out 27 incidents of threat and intimidation between January and June, compared with 17 such incidents recorded in the whole of 2021.

He added that there were also 28 carjacking incidents recorded in the first six months of the year, 17 more than in 2021, and 27 attacks on aid organizations’ premises and facilities — including the looting of humanitarian supplies and other assets.

Gressly also highlighted how aid workers have been targets of disinformation and incitement in recent months, including “false allegations that they corrupt Yemeni values, including the morals of young women.”

He added: “Such baseless allegations jeopardize the safety and security of humanitarian workers, especially Yemeni female aid workers at a time when women and girls are experiencing increased levels of violence and a rollback of their rights in many parts of the globe.

“Violence and threats against humanitarian workers undermines the delivery of aid, further jeopardizing the lives of those most in need,” he said.

“Aid workers in Yemen deserve to be celebrated for their selfless dedication.”

While the UN-brokered ceasefire between the Houthis and the Arab Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen has provided relief to civilians since going into effect in April and deserves full backing, the humanitarian crisis is as dire as ever.

More than 23 million people need some form of humanitarian assistance or protection, according to Gressly.

The number of people facing food insecurity is projected to increase to 19 million by December. The malnutrition rate among women and children is among the highest in the world and a third of the 4.3 million internally displaced people in Yemen continue to live under extreme conditions, his statement said.

Without the tireless commitment of humanitarians in Yemen, the situation would be far worse, Gressly added.

“Aid workers in Yemen remain unwavering in their mission. These selfless women and men continue to step up to every day, providing millions of people in need with food and cash, health services and clean water, protection and emergency education.

“We should all do everything we can to protect them and support their critical work.”


Prince Abdulaziz bin Talal launches first edition of Arab Climate Forum

Prince Abdulaziz bin Talal launches first edition of Arab Climate Forum
Updated 8 sec ago

Prince Abdulaziz bin Talal launches first edition of Arab Climate Forum

Prince Abdulaziz bin Talal launches first edition of Arab Climate Forum
  • AGFUND president says Arab countries are among most vulnerable to climate change

RIYADH: Prince Abdulaziz bin Talal, president of the Arab Gulf Program for Development (AGFUND), launched the first edition of the Arab Climate Forum on Sunday, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The forum, titled “Together to Strengthen Civil Society’s Contribution to Climate Action and Sustainability,” will assess the social, economic and environmental consequences of climate change.

Over two days, the agenda will include six axes: Climate change and sustainability, climate change and its impact on the most vulnerable groups, encouraging innovation for the benefit of adaptation and mitigation, climate change and fragile economic activities, integrating citizens and local communities in climate action, and the role of systemic change in green transformation.

As part of the ongoing preparations for COP27 in Egypt’s Sharm El-Sheikh in November, the forum is being held in collaboration with the Egyptian Ministry of Environment, the League of Arab States, AGFUND, the Arab Council for Childhood and Development and the Arab Network for NGOs.

Egyptian Minister of Environment Dr. Yasmine Fouad and Head of Social Affairs at the Arab League Ambassador Haifa Abu Ghazaleh are also taking part in the forum.

In his opening speech, Prince Abdulaziz bin Talal said that the world’s unprecedented climatic phenomena were not a coincidence. He argued that climate change should be fought by increasing the use of renewable energy sources as well as adaptation through proactive transformations.

The AGFUND president added that Arab countries are among the most vulnerable and affected regions in the world as a result of climate change and that effective climate action has become a common moral commitment for all, urging all development parties to take their responsibilities seriously and responsibly in order to keep the planet fit for sustainable living.

He lauded efforts to address climate challenges, including the Prince Talal International Prize for Development 2021, which has four branches dedicated to climate change. He noted that the four winners would be honored at COP27.
 


Hundreds protest in Turkey in support of Iranian women

Hundreds protest in Turkey in support of Iranian women
Updated 02 October 2022

Hundreds protest in Turkey in support of Iranian women

Hundreds protest in Turkey in support of Iranian women
  • In Istanbul, many Iranians were among the hundreds of people who chanted slogans against the Tehran regime and in support of Iranian women
  • Women held red roses, Iranian flags and signs bearing the words “women, life, freedom”

ISTANBUL: Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in Turkey on Sunday to condemn Iran’s crackdown on women-led demonstrations sparked by a young woman’s death after her arrest by the country’s notorious morality police.
In Istanbul, many Iranians were among the hundreds of people who chanted slogans against the Tehran regime and in support of Iranian women.
Women held red roses, Iranian flags and signs bearing the words “women, life, freedom,” the battle cry of the protest movement that has rocked Iran and was triggered last month by the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd.
In Diyarbakir, a southeastern city with a majority Kurdish population, around 200 people gathered brandishing photographs of Iranian women killed in the crackdown and a large banner with the slogan “women, life, freedom” in Kurdish, an AFP correspondent reported.
A demonstration in solidarity with Iranian women attended by hundreds of people was also held in the western city of Izmir on Saturday evening, according to images published on social media and verified by AFP.
At least 92 people have been killed in Iran since the start of the protests two weeks ago, Norway-based NGO Iran Human Rights said on Sunday.


Tehran seals border with Pakistan amid deadly crackdown in neighboring Iranian city

Tehran seals border with Pakistan amid deadly crackdown in neighboring Iranian city
Updated 02 October 2022

Tehran seals border with Pakistan amid deadly crackdown in neighboring Iranian city

Tehran seals border with Pakistan amid deadly crackdown in neighboring Iranian city
  • Iranian state media say five IRGC and Basiji personnel killed in Zahedan
  • Local journalists and activists estimate at least 50 protesters killed by security forces

QUETTA: Iran sealed a main crossing point with Pakistan on Sunday amid deadly unrest and a crackdown on protesters in Zahedan, a southeastern Iranian city near the border.

Violence broke out in the capital of the Iranian Sistan and Balochistan province during Friday prayers, after worshipers in the city’s Makki Mosque called for a protest over the rape of a 15-year-old girl, allegedly by a local military commander.

Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps provincial intelligence chief Ali Mousavi was shot during the clashes on Friday and pronounced dead at a hospital.

The killing was claimed by the Jaish Al-Adl militant group, which says it is fighting for the independence of Sistan and Balochistan, and greater rights for Baloch people, who are the main ethnic group in the province.

A Pakistani Federal Investigation Agency official told Arab News the border crossing in Taftan, about 90 km from Zahedan, was sealed off by Iranian authorities.

“They are not allowing departure movement from Pakistan into Iran,” he said on condition of anonymity.

“On Saturday, they allowed 780 people, including foreigners who wanted to cross into Pakistan, but on Sunday they completely halted all kinds of trade and pedestrian movement.”

Sardarzada Umair Muhammad Hassani, former adviser to the chief minister of Pakistan’s Balochistan province, said the border closure would affect Iran itself, as food supplies to Iran pass through Pakistan.

“The border closure decision by Iranian forces wasn’t fair in the better interest of Iran,” he told Arab News, adding that he had backtracked on his earlier opinion that Pakistani-Iranian ties should be enhanced, as the killings in Zahedan have affected the Baloch community on the Pakistani side.

“Baloch tribes have been living on both sides of the border,” Hassani said. “The recent brutality toward the people of Zahedan by the Iranian forces has hurt the sentiments and emotions of the Baloch.”

Footage emerging from the city showed people carrying dead and wounded protesters amid heavy gunfire. The administration of Sistan and Balochistan said 19 people have been killed in the clashes, but journalists in the province and activists estimate the number of deaths to be at least 50, as clashes continue.

“According to local media in Zahedan, the death toll has risen to 50, because the majority of the injured who were shot by Iranian forces were being treated in their homes instead of hospitals due to fear of arrest by the Iranian forces,” Asif Burhanzai, a journalist in Taftan, told Arab News.

The Baloch Activists Campaign said at least 58 people have died and 270 have been wounded.

Communication services were down in Zahedan and surrounding areas over the weekend. On Sunday, mobile networks were partially restored, but access to the internet remained blocked.

Iran’s Mehr News Agency reported on Sunday that the number of personnel from the IRGC and its volunteer Basiji force killed in Zahedan had risen to five.

Their deaths, and that of the provincial IRGC intelligence chief, represent a major escalation in the antigovernment demonstrations that began in mid-September, triggered by the death of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, in the custody of the Iranian morality police.

The IRGC’s chief, Gen. Hossein Salami, pledged revenge for the killing of its forces.

“We consider revenge for the blood of the IRGC and Basiji martyrs and the people who were victims of the Black Friday crime in Zahedan to be on our agenda,” he said, as quoted by Iran’s official news agency IRNA.

Ongoing countrywide demonstrations have been the largest manifestation of dissent against the Iranian government in over a decade.

Rallies have spread to all of Iran’s 31 provinces, with ethnic and religious minorities joining in, despite a violent response from authorities.

With the deaths in Sistan and Balochistan, the number of those killed in the protests is likely to have crossed 100.

On Friday, the Norway-based Iran Human Rights organization estimated the number of dead to be at least 83. Many more have been wounded and thousands arrested.


Yemeni presidential council discusses with UN envoy extension of truce

Yemeni presidential council discusses with UN envoy extension of truce
Updated 02 October 2022

Yemeni presidential council discusses with UN envoy extension of truce

Yemeni presidential council discusses with UN envoy extension of truce

DUBAI: The Chairman of the Yemeni Presidential Council has met on Sunday the United Nation’s ambassador to Yemen to discuss the extension of the UN-brokered truce.  

The council, led by chairman Rashad al-Alimi, said the Houthi positions are hostile to peace efforts. 

Al-Alimi renewed calls for doubling international pressure on the Houthis. 

The British Ambassador to Yemen said we encourage the Houthis to work with the UN to extend the armistice. 


Israeli security forces dismantle cell linked to Daesh

Israeli security forces dismantle cell linked to Daesh
Updated 02 October 2022

Israeli security forces dismantle cell linked to Daesh

Israeli security forces dismantle cell linked to Daesh
  • Israeli security said the individuals had “met to prepare attacks”

JERUSALEM: Israel’s internal security agency said Sunday it dismantled in the north of the country a cell linked to Daesh, whose alleged sympathizers staged deadly attacks earlier this year.
“Six residents of Nazareth were arrested several weeks ago and interrogated by the Shin Bet on suspicion of seeking to carry out terrorist activities on behalf of (Daesh) inside Israel,” the agency said in a statement.
It added that the individuals had “met to prepare attacks.”
The Shin Bet agency said the probe “highlights the influence of Daesh in Israel.”
In March, four people were killed when a convicted Daesh sympathizer went on a stabbing and car-ramming rampage in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba.
Days later, two policemen were shot dead and several others wounded in the northern Israeli city of Hadera, in an attack that was later claimed by the jihadist group.
The Beersheba and Hadera attacks renewed long-standing concern in Israel about Daesh efforts to recruit Arab citizens, who account for roughly a fifth of the Israeli population.