AL-MUKALLA: The internationally recognized government of Yemen has slammed Houthi threats to attack oil ships and called for international action to stop the group from damaging civilian infrastructure and power sources.
Yemeni Foreign Minister Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak described the threats as “criminal and terrorist activity,” adding that the Iran-backed Houthis had no respect for international agreements prohibiting attacks on civilian facilities.
“Such a threat is unmistakable evidence of these groups’ terrorist nature, which is nothing new to Yemenis. It is crucial that the world understands how this terrorist organization operates and how it disregards fundamental international laws and conventions,” he told Arab News on Tuesday.
The minister’s comments came as the Aden-based Ministry of Transportation urged foreign shipping companies to continue their operations despite Houthi demands that they stop movements of the country’s oil.
In a letter sent on Monday to agents of shipping firms operating in Yemen, the ministry’s Maritime Affairs Authority said they should carry on exporting the nation’s oil, gas, and minerals from government-controlled ports and not comply with Houthi demands or threats.
“Memoranda or circulars will not be considered unless they are issued by Aden’s Presidency of the General Authority for Maritime Affairs,” the government’s maritime body said in the letter seen by Arab News.
The Yemen government’s request came a day after the Houthis officially ordered ship operators to stop transporting oil and minerals from government-controlled regions, threatening to target their vessels if the demand was ignored.
On Sunday, hours before a UN-brokered truce expired, the Houthis’ Minister of Transport Abdul-Wahab Yahya Al-Durra sent a letter requesting firms to cease shipping the country’s oil and other natural resources by 6 p.m., accusing them of looting Yemen’s resources.
“Any navigation activity that violates standard procedures will be treated as an illegal act that jeopardizes national interests, and we hold you fully responsible for violating it,” the Houthi minister said in his letter, also seen by Arab News.
The Yemeni militia group has refused to renew the UN truce and has resumed aggressive military operations in Marib, Taiz, and Dhale.
The Houthis threatened to target oil ships docking in government-controlled areas in a bid to deprive the government of financial resources unless it paid all public employees in areas under the group’s control, reopened Sanaa airport, and lifted alleged restrictions on fuel ship movements through Hodeidah port.
The Houthis’ refusal to open roads in Taiz has also hampered efforts to keep the truce in place.
The Yemeni government has said that the Houthis should pay public employees in their areas with the millions of dollars earned from fuel ships passing through Hodeidah port during the truce.
Yemen’s Oil Minister Saeed Al-Shumasi recently told Al-Ghad Mushreq TV that the country exported 2 million barrels of oil every two months from oil fields in the southeastern province of Hadramout, plus 600,000 barrels from the southern province of Shabwa.
The Dhaba oil terminal in Hadramout province handles most of the country’s oil exports to international markets.
Turkiye jails teen who added moustache to Erdogan poster
He was arrested after being identified by CCTV cameras
Updated 58 min 26 sec ago
ISTANBUL: Turkish authorities on Tuesday seized and jailed a 16-year-old youth for drawing a moustache on an election campaign poster showing re-elected President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, media reports said.
Several media close to the opposition, including daily newspapers BirGun, Cumhuriyet and private TV station Halk TV, said the youth from the southeastern town of Mersin was accused of defacing the poster near his home with a pen, scribbling “a Hitler moustache and writing insulting comments.”
He was arrested after being identified by CCTV cameras, media reports said. Authorities interviewed him at his home where he reportedly “admitted drawing the moustache” while denying writing the accompanying comments.
Taken before the public prosecutor he was found to have “insulted the president” and was jailed at a nearby youth facility, according to Halk TV.
Erdogan extended his 20-year rule over Turkiye after winning the May 28 second round of the presidential election to embark on a new five-year term.
According to the justice ministry, “insulting the president” is one of the most common crimes in Turkiye, resulting in 16,753 convictions last year.
UAE to tighten insurance cover for ships flying its flag
Updated 06 June 2023
DUBAI: The UAE is tightening insurance requirements for vessels registered under its flag, according to a government advisory, amid growing concerns over ships sailing without top tier cover in the event of an oil spill.
Ships typically have protection and indemnity insurance which covers liability claims including environmental damage and injury. Separate hull and machinery policies cover vessels against physical damage.
About 90 percent of the world’s ocean going tonnage is covered by the 12 ship insurers that make up the International Group.
P&I insurers outside of the IG that cover UAE flagged ships will need to meet a number of requirements including providing evidence of membership of a recognized maritime related professional agency or regulatory body, the UAE’s Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure said in a June 2 advisory posted on its website.
Other requirements include providing details of the five largest settled claims or details of claims over $10 million, the advisory said, adding that applications needed to be submitted before June 30.
The advisory, which was also addressed to ship owners, said evidence would need to be shown about so-called blue cards, which cover pollution damage.
The UAE flagged fleet includes dozens of oil tankers — many of which are old — and over 200 offshore vessels typically used in oil related trading, according to shipping data on public database Equasis.
Hundreds of “ghost” tankers, which are not fully regulated, have joined an opaque parallel shipping trade over the past few years, carrying oil from countries hit by Western sanctions and restrictions, including Russia and Iran.
The number of incidents last year, including groundings, collisions and near misses involving these ships reached the highest in years, a Reuters investigation showed.
Ports in China’s Shandong province are demanding more detailed information about oil tankers that are more than 15 years old that call at their terminals, sources with knowledge of the matter said this week.
Residents of Tuti island in the Nile reported being “under siege” amid desperate shortages
Updated 06 June 2023
KHARTOUM: Battles raged in Sudan’s war-torn capital of Khartoum on Tuesday, witnesses said, and the residents of an island in the Nile reported being “under siege” amid desperate shortages.
Eight weeks of fighting have pitted army chief Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan against his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who commands the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.
A number of broken ceasefires have offered brief lulls but no respite for residents of the city, where witnesses again reported “the sound of heavy artillery fire” in northern Khartoum.
Witnesses also said there were “clashes with various types of weapons” in south Khartoum, where “the sound of explosions shook our walls.”
In the city center, at the confluence of the White Nile and Blue Nile rivers, the island of Tuti is “under total siege” by RSF forces, resident Mohammed Youssef said.
Paramilitaries have blocked the only bridge to the island and prevented residents from going by boat to other parts of the capital.
“We can’t move anyone who’s sick to hospitals off the island,” Youssef said. “If this continues for days, stores will run out of food.”
Since the fighting began on April 15, more than 1,800 people have been killed, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project.
Al Arabiya channel reported that the warring parties had resumed indirect ceasefire talks in Jeddah on Tuesday.
The UN says that more than a million and a half people have been displaced, both within the country and across its borders.
For those still in Khartoum and the western region of Darfur — which together have seen the worst of the fighting — the situation is growing increasingly dire.
“We face a massive humanitarian crisis that is only going to get worse with the collapse of the economy, collapse of the health care system,” the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies warned.
The danger will increase with “the flood season fast approaching and the looming hunger crisis and disease outbreaks that now are becoming more inevitable.”
Sudan’s annual rainy season begins in June, and medics have repeatedly warned that it threatens to make parts of country inaccessible, raising the risks of malaria, cholera and water-borne diseases.
How neglect of health and hygiene issues deepens gender inequality in Middle East displacement camps
Poor access to hygiene products impacts the lives of millions in the world’s conflict and crisis zones
Camp overcrowding “can lead to a lack of dignity and privacy, which can also impact mental health”
Updated 07 June 2023
LONDON: Every month, women and girls living in camps for displaced people face a common challenge — one that, despite being a natural occurrence, disrupts their daily lives in everything from queuing for meals to participating in social life.
Long a relatively neglected health issue, aid agencies say that poor access to menstrual hygiene management products impacts the lives of millions in the world’s crisis-hit regions, deepening gender inequality.
“The lack of access to menstrual hygiene products and facilities can be a significant barrier to the participation of displaced women and girls in training programs and other activities,” said Samara Atassi, CEO and co-founder of Souriyat Across Borders, a women-led charity that supports refugees and internally displaced people in Jordan, Syria and the UK.
Insufficient access to such products and facilities often forces women and girls to resort to “unhygienic practices, such as using dirty rags, leaves or even sand to manage their periods,” Atassi told Arab News.
Social stigma and embarrassment often pose an additional challenge, leading to “isolation and a sense of shame,” taking a toll on their mental wellbeing, she said. Overcrowding in camps in particular “can lead to a lack of dignity and privacy, which can also impact their mental health.”
Further exacerbating the problem are issues such as inadequate access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene facilities.
These conditions “can make it difficult to manage menstrual hygiene, further increasing the risk of infections and other health problems,” Sahar Yassin, Oxfam MENA regional gender advocacy adviser, told Arab News.
“Period poverty” is defined as a lack of access to menstrual products, education, hygiene facilities, waste management, or a combination of these.
In 2019, experts from academic institutions, NGOs, governments, UN organizations and elsewhere came together to form the Global Menstrual Collective to research the issue. It defined menstrual health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in relation to the menstrual cycle.”
It noted that people should have access to information about menstruation, life changes and hygiene practices, the ability to care for themselves during menstruation, as well as access to water, sanitation and hygiene services.
It also highlighted the importance of the ability to receive a diagnosis for menstrual cycle disorders and access to health care, a positive, supportive environment in which to make informed decisions, and the ability to participate in all aspects of life, such as going to work and school.
Period poverty affects an estimated 500 million people worldwide — but is perhaps more keenly felt by those who have been forcibly displaced from their homes, or those reaching puberty while living in overcrowded and poorly equipped camp settings.
The UN Refugee Agency estimates that women and girls account for about 50 percent of any displaced or stateless population.
At the end of 2021, the Middle East and North Africa accounted for about 16 million forcibly displaced and stateless people, with the largest numbers fleeing conflict in Syria and Yemen, according to the UNHCR figures.
However, the reproductive health of women and girls in refugee and internal displacement camps continues to face neglect by donors. A 2019 survey by UNHCR found that just 55 percent of women’s needs were met with regard to menstruation products.
Nicola Banks, advocacy manager at the UK-based charity Action for Humanity, told Arab News that the UK had recently reduced “funding for its flagship program on sexual and reproductive health, Women’s Integrated Sexual Health,” which supports marginalized populations in Asia and Africa.
“Cuts to SRHR (sexual and reproductive health and rights) programs ... could result in reduced access to menstrual hygiene products, education and reproductive health services, potentially exacerbating period poverty,” Banks said.
During humanitarian crises, relief and aid efforts are chiefly focused on what are considered the most immediate needs — food, shelter and medicine — while menstrual hygiene products are often ignored, according to a report published in September 2022 by the UN sexual and reproductive health agency, UNFPA.
Another critical challenge to menstrual hygiene management is a lack of education, which can lead to misconceptions about menstruation, further perpetuating stigma and shame, said Atassi of Souriyat Across Borders.
Owing to this pervasive sense of stigma and shame, many girls aged 10-18 in refugee camps in Turkiye continue to have limited access to accurate information about menstruation, meaning few are fully informed before reaching menarche, or the first menstrual cycle, according to the UNFPA report.
The study, “Menstrual hygiene management among refugee women and girls in Turkiye,” emphasized that this important yet vulnerable population lacked a complete and accurate conception of menstruation, with the main source of information being the mother or another female family member.
A 2019 UNHCR study found that only 55 percent of women’s needs were met in regard to menstruation products.
Oxfam’s Yassin says that this lack of education, combined with period poverty, “is closely linked to gender-based violence in the MENA region, where the cultural taboo surrounding menstruation precludes women and girls from discussing it openly, leading to misinformation and/or lack of information.”
Forms of gender-based violence, or GBV, linked to menstruation include “early marriage, lack of privacy, safety, and sexual harassment,” she said.
To conceal evidence of their menstruation, women in displacement and refugee camps often find themselves forced to venture alone to secluded areas, which exposes them to the potential for sexual violence. But the threat is also present in toilet spaces inside the camps.
A 2021 statement by Filippo Grandi, the UN high commissioner for refugees, revealed that “one in five refugees or internally displaced women have faced sexual violence,” adding that the COVID-19 pandemic aggravated the issue.
“In many cases, GBV is a result of violations of SRHR, such as female genital mutilation/cutting, child marriage, intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence,” said Banks of Action for Humanity.
“While education, empowerment, and ending violence are critical components of gender equality, they cannot be addressed in isolation from SRHR.”
For Oxfam’s Yassin, “by addressing period poverty and providing better menstrual hygiene management infrastructure and accessible facilities, we can not only promote gender equality and prevent gender-based violence but also support women’s and girls’ health, economic empowerment and well-being.”
Despite efforts by several NGOs and UN agencies to alleviate the burdens caused by period stigma and poverty, menstrual hygiene management remains a largely unaddressed issue in refugee and displacement camps.
“As an organization that is committed to empowering women, we recognize the importance of providing comprehensive sexual education,” said Atassi of Souriyat Across Borders. “Unfortunately, we currently do not have an education project inside the IDPs camps.
“However, we strive to support women’s health and hygiene needs through all our relief campaigns.
“Even in the emergency response situations, such as during the (Feb. 6 Syria-Turkiye) earthquakes ... we prioritized the inclusion of women’s hygiene baskets in our relief efforts.
“We believe that by addressing women’s basic needs, we can help them feel supported, safe and empowered.”