Yemenis demand end to Houthis’ 3,000-day siege of Taiz

A demonstrator holds a sign reading in English
A demonstrator holds a sign reading in English "end Taiz [Taez] siege" demanding the end of a years-long blockade of the area imposed by Yemen's Huthi rebels on the Yemeni third city on May 25, 2022. (AFP)
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Updated 15 July 2023
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Yemenis demand end to Houthis’ 3,000-day siege of Taiz

Yemenis demand end to Houthis’ 3,000-day siege of Taiz
  • Rights activist criticizes international community for not exerting sufficient effort to end militia’s blockade

AL-MUKALLA: People in Yemen’s southern city of Taiz staged a protest near a Houthi-manned checkpoint on Saturday to condemn the militia’s ongoing siege of the city. Yemenis have also organized an online campaign to mark 3,000 days since the Houthis’ siege began in the spring of 2015.

Dozens of Yemenis stood in a line near the Houthi-controlled eastern entrance to Taiz to protest the siege, which has lasted more than eight years, and to urge the world to intervene.

People carried signs criticizing the international community, primarily the UN, for allowing the Houthis to continue the siege. They also displayed images of people traveling on treacherous steep roads to avoid the checkpoints that choke the city.

“Taiz’s siege is the crime of the century,” one of the posters read.

“Save humanity in Taiz,” read another English-language post.

FASTFACT

On social media, Yemeni leaders, politicians, activists, and many Taiz residents have participated in a campaign to mark 3,000 days of the siege and to raise awareness of the plight of those trapped inside.

The Houthis laid siege to Yemen’s third largest city in the middle of 2015, months after engaging in fierce combat with Yemeni army troops and allied resistance fighters who successfully defended the city with the assistance of the Arab coalition.

To force the city’s surrender, the Houthis surrounded the city’s main entrances, preventing anyone from leaving or entering the city and halting the delivery of goods and humanitarian aid.

On social media, Yemeni leaders, politicians, activists, and many Taiz residents have participated in a campaign to mark 3,000 days of the siege and to raise awareness of the plight of those trapped inside.

Eshraq Al-Maqtari, a human rights activist based in Taiz, said the Houthi siege has had a significant impact on the city’s residents, with many being killed in car accidents while attempting to leave or access the city on perilous roads.

She criticized the international community for not exerting sufficient efforts to end the siege.

“During 3,000 days of blockade, the people of Taiz have endured various forms of torment. They have traversed it on foot via treacherous mountainous roads, carrying only essential supplies — medication, food, and oxygen for the patients on their backs. The world is silently observing our tribulations,” she wrote on Twitter.

Speaking to Arab News from the city, Aqeel Al-Samei, who also took part in the campaign, compared the Houthi checkpoints outside the city to the Berlin Wall, saying that the Houthi-controlled Al-Hawban road “separates families, depriving children of fathers, sons of mothers, and patients of hospitals.”

Yemeni leaders have pledged to end the siege through diplomacy or force. Rashad Al-Alimi, chairman of Yemen’s Presidential Leadership Council, praised Yemenis’ efforts to end the siege.

“We affirm our unwavering commitment to making the end of the fascist militia’s siege of the city a top priority,” Al-Alimi said.

Under a UN-brokered truce that came into effect in April last year, the Houthis were supposed to lift the siege in exchange for the Yemeni government facilitating the resumption of commercial flights from Sanaa airport as well as the entrance of fuel ships to Hodeidah port.

However, to date, the Houthis have opened only a small unpaved road heading into and out of Taiz.

Tareq Mohammed Abdullah Saleh, presidential council member, said that the siege of Taiz will be lifted only when the Houthis are beaten by military force.

“The siege of Taiz will be broken by the guns of men, and the era of Houthi tyranny will come to an end and vanish in the same manner as other bloodthirsty militias and terrorist bands,” Saleh said.

 


Wars in Gaza and Sudan ‘drive hunger crisis affecting 280 million worldwide’

Wars in Gaza and Sudan ‘drive hunger crisis affecting 280 million worldwide’
Updated 31 min 1 sec ago
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Wars in Gaza and Sudan ‘drive hunger crisis affecting 280 million worldwide’

Wars in Gaza and Sudan ‘drive hunger crisis affecting 280 million worldwide’
  • New report on global food insecurity says outlook for 2024 is ‘bleak’

JEDDAH: More than 280 million people worldwide suffered from acute hunger last year in a food security crisis driven by conflicts in Gaza and Sudan, UN agencies and development groups said on Wednesday.

Economic shocks also added to the number of victims, which grew by 24 million compared with 2022, according to a report by the Food Security Information Network.

The report, which called the global outlook for this year “bleak,” is produced for an international alliance of UN agencies, the EU and governmental and non-governmental bodies.

Food insecurity is defined as when populations face food deprivation that threatens lives or livelihoods, regardless of the causes or length of time. More geographical areas experienced “new or intensified shocks” and there was a “marked deterioration in key food crisis contexts such as Sudan and the Gaza Strip,” said Fleur Wouterse, a senior official at the UN’s Food and Agricultue Organization.

Since the first report by the Global Food Crisis Network covering 2016, the number of food-insecure people has risen from 108 million to 282 million, Wouterse said. The share of the population affected within the areas concerned had doubled from 11 percent to 22 percent, she said.

Protracted major food crises are ongoing in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Syria and Yemen. “In a world of plenty, children are starving to death,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.

“War, climate chaos and a cost-of-living crisis, combined with inadequate action, mean that almost 300 million people faced acute food crisis in 2023. Funding is not keeping pace with need.”

According to the report, situations of conflict or insecurity have become the main cause of acute hunger. For 2024, progress would depend on the end of hostilities, said Wouterse, who said aid could rapidly alleviate the crisis in Gaza or Sudan, for example, once humanitarian access to the areas was possible.
 


Yemen’s Houthis say they targeted American and Israeli ships

Yemen’s Houthis say they targeted American and Israeli ships
Updated 9 min 53 sec ago
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Yemen’s Houthis say they targeted American and Israeli ships

Yemen’s Houthis say they targeted American and Israeli ships
  • The Iran-aligned group said it targeted the US ship Maersk Yorktown, an American destroyer in the Gulf of Aden and Israeli ship MSC Veracruz in the Indian Ocean
  • “The Yemeni armed forces confirm they will continue to prevent Israeli navigation,” Sarea said

CAIRO/DUBAI: Houthi militants in Yemen have attacked what they said were two American ships and an Israeli vessel, the group’s military spokesman said on Wednesday, the first such attack in more than two weeks.
The Iran-aligned group said it targeted the US ship Maersk Yorktown, an American destroyer in the Gulf of Aden and Israeli ship MSC Veracruz in the Indian Ocean, the spokesman, Yahya Sarea, said in a televised speech.
Yemen’s Houthis have been attacking ships in the Red Sea region since November in what they say is a campaign of solidarity with Palestinians fighting Israel in Gaza.
“The Yemeni armed forces confirm they will continue to prevent Israeli navigation or any navigation heading to the ports of occupied Palestine in the Red and Arabian Seas, as well as in the Indian Ocean,” Sarea said on Wednesday.
Separately, British maritime security firm Ambrey said earlier on Wednesday that it was aware of an incident southwest of the port city of Aden, an area where the Houthis often target ships they say are linked to Israel or the United States.
The vessel reported an “explosion in the water” approximately 72 nautical miles east-southeast of Djibouti, an updated advisory from Ambrey said.
Houthi attacks have disrupted global shipping through the Suez Canal, forcing firms to re-route to longer and more expensive journeys around southern Africa. The United States and Britain have launched strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen.


Iraq hangs 11 convicted of ‘terrorism’: security, health sources

Iraq hangs 11 convicted of ‘terrorism’: security, health sources
Updated 24 April 2024
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Iraq hangs 11 convicted of ‘terrorism’: security, health sources

Iraq hangs 11 convicted of ‘terrorism’: security, health sources
  • Under Iraqi law, terrorism and murder offenses are punishable by death, and execution decrees must be signed by the president
  • A security source in Iraq’s southern Dhi Qar province told AFP that 11 “terrorists from the Daesh group” were executed by hanging at a prison in Nasiriyah

NASIRIYAH, Iraq: Iraqi authorities have executed at least 11 people convicted of “terrorism” this week, security and health sources said Wednesday, with rights group Amnesty International condemning an “alarming lack of transparency.”
Under Iraqi law, terrorism and murder offenses are punishable by death, and execution decrees must be signed by the president.
A security source in Iraq’s southern Dhi Qar province told AFP that 11 “terrorists from the Daesh group” were executed by hanging at a prison in the city of Nasiriyah, “under the supervision of a justice ministry team.”
A local medical source confirmed that the health department had received the bodies of 11 executed people.
They were hanged on Monday “under Article 4 of the anti-terrorism law,” the source added, requesting anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.
All 11 were from Salahaddin province and the bodies of seven had been returned to their families, the medical official said.
Iraqi courts have handed down hundreds of death and life sentences in recent years for people convicted of membership in “a terrorist group,” an offense that carries capital punishment regardless of whether the defendant had been an active fighter.
Iraq has been criticized for trials denounced by rights groups as hasty, with confessions sometimes obtained under torture.
Amnesty in a statement on Wednesday condemned the latest hangings for “overly broad and vague terrorism charges.”
It said a total of 13 men were executed on Monday, including 11 who had been “convicted on the basis of their affiliation to the so-called Daesh armed group.”
The two others, arrested in 2008, “were convicted of terrorism-related offenses under the Penal Code after a grossly unfair trial,” Amnesty said citing their lawyer.


Biden says Israel must allow aid to Palestinians ‘without delay’

Biden says Israel must allow aid to Palestinians ‘without delay’
Updated 24 April 2024
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Biden says Israel must allow aid to Palestinians ‘without delay’

Biden says Israel must allow aid to Palestinians ‘without delay’
  • “We’re going to immediately secure that aid and surge it,” Biden said
  • “Israel must make sure all this aid reaches the Palestinians in Gaza without delay“

WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden on Wednesday demanded that new humanitarian aid be allowed to immediately reach Palestinians in the Gaza Strip as key US ally Israel fights Hamas there.
“We’re going to immediately secure that aid and surge it... including food, medical supplies, clean water,” Biden said after signing a massive military aid bill for Israel and Ukraine, which also included $1 billion in humanitarian aid for Gaza.
“Israel must make sure all this aid reaches the Palestinians in Gaza without delay,” he said.
US-Israel relations have been strained by Israel’s conduct of the war in Gaza and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to send troops into the southern Gazan city of Rafah, where 1.5 million people are sheltering, many in makeshift encampments.
“This bill significantly — significantly — increases humanitarian assistance we’re sending to the innocent people of Gaza who are suffering badly,” Biden said.
“They’re suffering the consequences of this war that Hamas started, and we’ve been working intently for months to get as much aid to Gaza as possible.”


Israel hits Lebanese border towns with 14 missiles

Israel hits Lebanese border towns with 14 missiles
Updated 24 April 2024
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Israel hits Lebanese border towns with 14 missiles

Israel hits Lebanese border towns with 14 missiles
  • Hezbollah targets Israeli settlements in retaliation for Hanin civilian deaths
  • Hezbollah said it attacked the Shomera settlement with dozens of Katyusha rockets

BEIRUT: Clashes between Hezbollah and Israeli forces escalated sharply on Wednesday, the 200th day of conflict in southern Lebanon’s border area.

Israeli airstrikes created a ring of fire around Lebanese border towns, with at least 14 missiles hitting the area.

In the past two days, military activity in the border region has increased, with Hezbollah targeting areas in northern Acre for the first time in the conflict.

On Wednesday, Israeli strikes hit the outskirts of Aita Al-Shaab, Ramya, Jabal Balat, and Khallet Warda.

The Israeli military said it had destroyed a missile launching pad in Tair Harfa, and targeted Hezbollah infrastructure in Marqaba and Aita Al-Shaab.

Israeli artillery also struck areas of Kafar Shuba and Shehin “to eliminate a potential threat.”

Hezbollah also stepped up its operations, saying this was in retaliation for the “horrific massacre committed by the Israeli enemy in the town of Hanin, causing casualties and injuries among innocent civilians.”

A woman in her 50s and a 12-year-old girl, both members of the same family, were killed in the Israeli airstrike. Six other people were injured.

Hezbollah said it attacked the Shomera settlement with dozens of Katyusha rockets.

The group said it also targeted Israeli troops in Horsh Natawa, and struck the Al-Raheb site with artillery.

It also claimed to have killed and wounded Israeli soldiers in an attack on the Avivim settlement.

Israeli news outlets said that a rocket-propelled grenade hit a house in the settlement, setting the dwelling ablaze.

Hezbollah’s military media said that in the past 200 days of fighting with Israel, 1,998 operations had been carried out from Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq, including 1,637 staged by Hezbollah.