Over 60,000 Syrian refugees in Iraq: UN

Updated 09 December 2012

Over 60,000 Syrian refugees in Iraq: UN

BAGHDAD: More than 63,000 Syrian refugees have fled the bloody conflict in their home country for neighboring Iraq, according to figures released by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees yesterday.
The intense fighting between forces loyal to Bashar Assad and fighters battling to overthrow him has sparked a huge exodus of Syrians to neighboring countries.
There were 63,496 Syrian refugees in Iraq as of Dec. 5, a weekly update released by the UN said.
Most of them — 54,550 — were in the three-province autonomous Kurdistan region of northern Iraq, while 8,852 were located in Anbar province in the west and 94 in other provinces.
Meanwhile, Syria’s new opposition coalition said yesterday they will announce the creation of a military council before a Friends of Syria meeting next week, to unify the ranks of fighters.
National Coalition Secretary General Mustafa Sabbagh said the group “will announce the creation of a supreme military council before the Friends of Syria meeting in Marrakesh” due to take place on Dec. 12. In mid-November opposition factions met in Qatar and agreed to set up the National Coalition and bring together rebel forces under a supreme military council, as well as establish a judicial commission for fighter areas.
“The council will be exclusively responsible for receiving military aid which we obtain,” from outside Syria, Sabbagh told AFP.
He also stressed that the military command will not include radical groups such as Al-Nusra Front which, along with other rebels who rejected the formation of the opposition National Coalition.
The Al-Nusra Front, which has become a formidable fighting force, has claimed the majority of suicide bombing attacks in Syria’s 21-month-old insurgency that has cost tens of thousands of lives.
“Setting up the supreme military council is an important initiative to unify military action,” said Sabbagh.
The council will comprise “commanders of the various military councils on the group and forces battling the regime, namely the Free Syrian Army,” he said on the sidelines of a regional security forum in Bahrain.
Morocco has said it will host next Wednesday the fourth round of a Friends of Syria meeting of nations that support the opposition.


Yemen’s terrifying, severely damaged road to Taiz on brink of collapse

Vehicles are pictured on a damaged road, the only travel route between Yemen’s cities of Taiz and Aden. Yemen has been left in ruins by six years of war, where over 24 million people are in need of aid and protection. (AFP)
Updated 29 min 35 sec ago

Yemen’s terrifying, severely damaged road to Taiz on brink of collapse

  • Convoys of vehicles big and small move at a snail’s pace as they squeeze past each other on the narrow road that has been severely damaged over the years by heavy rainfall

TAIZ: Lorries filled to the brim with goods labor up and down the dangerously winding and precipitous road of Hayjat Al-Abed, the mountainous lifeline to Yemen’s third largest city.
Unlike all other routes linking southwest Taiz to the rest of the war-torn country, the road — with its dizzying drop-offs into the valley below — is the only one that has not fallen into the hands of the Houthi rebels.
Some 500,000 inhabitants of the city, which is besieged by the Iran-backed Houthis, depend on the 7-km stretch of crater-filled road for survival, as the long conflict between the insurgents and the government shows no signs of abating.
Convoys of vehicles big and small move at a snail’s pace as they squeeze past each other on the narrow road that has been severely damaged over the years by heavy rainfall.
“As you can see, it is full of potholes, and we face dangerous slopes,” Marwan Al-Makhtary, a young truck driver, told AFP. “Sometimes trucks can no longer move forward, so they stop and roll back.”
Makhtary said nothing was being done to fix the road, and fears are mounting that the inexorable deterioration will ultimately bring the supply of goods to a halt.
Dozens of Taiz residents on Tuesday urged the government to take action, forming a human chain along the road — some of them carrying signs saying: “Save Taiz’s Lifeline.”

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500,000 inhabitants of Taiz, which is besieged by the Iran-backed Houthis, depend on the 7-km stretch of crater-filled road for survival.

“We demand the legitimate government and local administration accelerate efforts to maintain and fix the road,” said one of the protesters, Abdeljaber Numan.
“This is the only road that connects Taiz with the outside world, and the blocking of this artery would threaten the city.”
Sultan Al-Dahbaly, who is responsible for road maintenance in the local administration, said the closure of the road would represent a “humanitarian disaster” in a country already in crisis and where the majority of the population is dependent on aid.
“It is considered a lifeline of the city of Taiz, and it must be serviced as soon as possible because about 5 million people (in the province) would be affected,” he told AFP.

Humanitarian aid
Meanwhile, Yemen’s president on Thursday urged his government’s rival, the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, to stop impeding the flow of urgently needed humanitarian aid following a warning from the UN humanitarian chief last week that “the specter of famine” has returned to the conflict-torn country.
President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s plea came in a prerecorded speech to the UN General Assembly’s ministerial meeting being held virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It aired more than a week after Human Rights Watch warned that all sides in Yemen’s conflict were interfering with the arrival of food, health care supplies, water and sanitation support.