NGOs urge WFP, Houthis to resolve relief standoff to avert famine in Yemen

NGOs urge WFP, Houthis to resolve relief standoff to avert famine in Yemen
Twenty-two humanitarian groups working in Yemen have urged the Iran-backed Houthis and the WFP to resolve their assistance distribution dispute as soon as possible to prevent widespread starvation. (Reuters/File)
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Updated 09 December 2023
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NGOs urge WFP, Houthis to resolve relief standoff to avert famine in Yemen

NGOs urge WFP, Houthis to resolve relief standoff to avert famine in Yemen
  • The WFP suspended the distribution of humanitarian aid in areas under Houthi control last week
  • To avert an impending famine in war-torn Yemen, the organizations proposed that the WFP and the Houthis reach an agreement

AL-KUKALLA: Twenty-two humanitarian groups working in Yemen have urged the Iran-backed Houthis and the World Food Programme to resolve their assistance distribution dispute as soon as possible to prevent widespread starvation.
The WFP suspended the distribution of humanitarian aid in areas under Houthi control last week, citing funding shortages and a dispute with the Houthis as the reasons.
The Houthis denied a UN proposal to reduce the number of recipients of aid from 9.5 million to 6.5 million, the organization said, following nearly a year of negotiations.
The 22 international organizations, which included Islamic Relief, OXFAM, Save the Children, Qatar Charity, and others, expressed “grave” concern about the impact of the food delivery suspension on Yemen’s already dire humanitarian situation in the Houthi-controlled areas.
“After years of conflict and economic decline, food aid is a lifeline for millions of Yemenis and suspending it as the country works toward peace is a catastrophic scenario. We understand the fears and concerns of the affected Yemeni people, and we stand in solidarity with them,” the organizations said in their joint appeal.
To avert an impending famine in war-torn Yemen, the organizations proposed that the WFP and the Houthis reach an agreement that would allow humanitarian aid delivery to resume in Sanaa and other Houthi-controlled districts and that international donors quickly mobilize additional funding to reduce the impact of the aid suspension, focusing on food, health, and cash aid.
“The sooner an agreement is reached, the more likelihood of averting the risk of famine conditions returning to Yemen,” the statement continued.
Yemen’s war, which began in late 2014 after the Houthis seized power militarily, has resulted in the death of tens of thousands of Yemenis and has triggered what the UN has described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
The WFP dispute with the Houthis is the latest in a series of incidents in which the militia has harassed humanitarian workers and obstructed the delivery of assistance in Yemen.
In their latest report on Yemen, the UN Panel of Experts said that life-saving humanitarian goods and medicine have expired before reaching their intended recipients due to the Houthis’ obstruction of aid delivery.
The panel also accused the Houthis of diverting humanitarian funding to their backers and selling aid items in detention centers, in addition to removing the names of those who oppose their policies from the list of aid recipients.


Hezbollah fires new rocket salvo at Israeli base

Hezbollah fires new rocket salvo at Israeli base
Updated 57 min 50 sec ago
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Hezbollah fires new rocket salvo at Israeli base

Hezbollah fires new rocket salvo at Israeli base
  • The rocket fire was in response to Israel’s first strikes of the war on eastern Lebanon

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah said it launched a salvo of rockets at an Israeli air control base on Tuesday in retaliation for deadly Israeli strikes on east Lebanon.
Hamas ally Hezbollah has exchanged near-daily fire with the Israeli army since the Gaza war erupted in October, but strikes have been largely restricted to the border area.
Hezbollah said it targeted the “Meron air control base... with a large salvo of rockets from several launchers.”
It said the rocket fire was in response to Israel’s first strikes of the war on eastern Lebanon.
Israel struck Hezbollah targets near the city of Baalbek, killing two of its fighters, security sources said. The Israeli army said it targeted Hezbollah air defenses after the group downed one of its drones.
In retaliation, Hezbollah already fired 60 rockets at an Israeli base in the annexed Golah Heights on Monday.
Cross-border exchanges since October have killed at least 284 people on the Lebanese side, most of them Hezbollah fighters but also including 44 civilians, according to an AFP tally.
On the Israeli side, 10 soldiers and six civilians have been killed, according to the Israeli army.


Israeli team in Qatar in last push for Gaza peace deal

Israeli team in Qatar in last push for Gaza peace deal
Updated 47 min 30 sec ago
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Israeli team in Qatar in last push for Gaza peace deal

Israeli team in Qatar in last push for Gaza peace deal
  • Israel is under pressure from the US to agree on a truce

JEDDAH: A high-level Israeli delegation arrived on Monday in Qatar, where political leaders of Hamas are based, as the combatants in the Gaza war closed in on a ceasefire and hostage deal that the US says is now within reach.
The presence of both sides suggested talks were further along than at any time since a big push at the start of February, when Israel rejected a Hamas proposal as “delusional.”
In public, both sides continue to blame each other. Israel says it will agree only to a temporary pause in fighting to secure the release of hostages. Hamas says it will not free them without a permanent end to the war.
After meeting Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said the group had embraced mediators’ efforts to find an end to the war, and accused Israel of stalling while Gazans die under siege. “We will not allow the enemy to use negotiations as a cover for this crime,” he said.
Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said any ceasefire agreement would require “securing an end to the aggression, the withdrawal of the occupation, the returning of the displaced, the entry of aid, shelter equipment, and rebuilding.”
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was ready for a deal, and it was up to Hamas to drop demands he described as “outlandish” and “from another planet.”
Israel is under pressure from the US to agree on a truce to prevent a threatened assault on Rafah in southern Gaza.


Israeli forces kill three Palestinians in West Bank clashes, WAFA says

Israeli forces kill three Palestinians in West Bank clashes, WAFA says
Updated 27 February 2024
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Israeli forces kill three Palestinians in West Bank clashes, WAFA says

Israeli forces kill three Palestinians in West Bank clashes, WAFA says

CAIRO: Three Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in clashes in the occupied West Bank early on Tuesday, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA said.
At least 400 Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israeli soldiers and settlers since the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas gunmen.


At least 10 killed after ferry sinks in Egypt’s Nile

At least 10 killed after ferry sinks in Egypt’s Nile
Updated 27 February 2024
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At least 10 killed after ferry sinks in Egypt’s Nile

At least 10 killed after ferry sinks in Egypt’s Nile
  • Many Egyptians make their way using boats on a daily basis, especially in Upper Egypt and the Nile Delta

CAIRO: A ferry carrying day laborers sank in the Nile just outside the Egyptian capital, killing at least 10 of the 15 people on board, authorities said Monday.
The five who survived were transported to a hospital and later discharged, the Ministry of Manpower said in a statement. The cause of the sinking was not made immediately clear.
The ministry allocated compensation of 200,000 Egyptian pounds (around $6,466) to each family of the deceased and 20,000 ($646) to each of the five injured.
The laborers were on their way to work at a local construction firm. It took rescue teams hours to recover the bodies, according to local media which aired live-stream videos on social media platforms showing divers searching for the dead as villagers waited on the Nile banks.
The incident took place in the town of Monshat el-Kanater in Giza, which is one of three provinces forming Greater Cairo.
Many Egyptians make their way using boats on a daily basis, especially in Upper Egypt and the Nile Delta. Sailing along the Nile is also a favorite pastime during holidays in the Arab world’s most populous country.
Ferry, railway and road accidents are common in Egypt mainly because of poor maintenance and the lack of regulations.
In 2022, two people died and eight went missing after a small truck they were riding in slid off a ferry and plunged into the Nile. And in 2015, 35 people died in a collision between a passenger boat and a scow on the Nile.

 


France reiterates support for Morocco’s Western Sahara plan

France reiterates support for Morocco’s Western Sahara plan
Updated 27 February 2024
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France reiterates support for Morocco’s Western Sahara plan

France reiterates support for Morocco’s Western Sahara plan
  • The foreign minister’s visit comes after a series of diplomatic tensions between Rabat and Paris, the former colonial power which is home to a large diaspora

RABAT: France’s Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne, during a trip to Morocco intended to warm strained relations, on Monday reiterated French support of Morocco’s autonomy plan for disputed Western Sahara.
The former Spanish colony is largely controlled by Morocco but claimed by the Algeria-backed Polisario Front, which in 2020 declared a “self-defense war” and seeks the territory’s independence.
The United Nations considers Western Sahara a “non-self-governing territory.”
“This is an existential issue for Morocco. We know it,” Sejourne said during a press conference alongside his Moroccan counterpart, Nasser Bourita.
Sejourne said Morocco can count on France’s “clear and constant support” for its autonomy plan.
Rabat advocates limited autonomy for the vast desert territory which is home to abundant phosphates and fisheries.
Sejourne told journalists he wanted to support Moroccan efforts in developing the area.
“Morocco has invested a lot in development projects for the benefit of the local population and in terms of training, renewable energies, tourism,” and the use of ocean resources, he said.
The foreign minister’s visit comes after a series of diplomatic tensions between Rabat and Paris, the former colonial power which is home to a large diaspora.
Moroccans have been particularly upset by President Emmanuel Macron’s desired rapprochement with Algeria.
Sejourne proposed on Monday a partnership with Morocco focussed over the next 30 years on renewable energies, training and industrial development.
Morocco’s Bourita said “France is a distinguished partner of Morocco on the political, economic and humanitarian levels.”
The Polisario continues to demand a UN-supervised referendum on self-determination, which was agreed in a 1991 ceasefire accord after a 15-year war between the Front and Morocco. The referendum has still not taken place.
In late 2020 then-US president Donald Trump recognized Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara in return for Rabat’s normalization of ties with Israel. Morocco has since then pursued an increasingly intense diplomatic effort to win over other countries.