Yemen - ReliefWeb News
- According to media reports, heavy rain has been affecting south-western Yemen over the past few days, causing floods and landslides.
- On 23 May, local media reported that a landslide destroyed six houses and washed away large tracts of farmland leaving 20 people dead, dozens injured and traffic disruptions in the village of Al-Lassbah (Ta'izz province). The death toll may increase as search and rescue operations are still ongoing, as of 24 May early morning (UTC).
- Over the next 24 hours moderate rain may still affect the western and south-western areas of the country, including the ones already affected.
• TC ROANU formed over the south-western Bay of Bengal on 18 May causing widespread damage and casualties to several counties.
• In Bangladesh, at least 26 people dead, over 100 injured, over 500 000 evacuated, 83 978 homes partially or fully damaged • In Myanmar/Burma, several homes and bridges were damaged, as well as several temporary IDP shelters were damaged.
• In India, two people were killed, two were injured, 2 500 people evacuated and several homes damaged. • In Sri Lanka, 94 people were killed, 31 were injured and over 4 500 homes were damaged due to the effects of the cyclone.
• According to media reports, heavy rain has been affecting south-western Yemen over the past few days, causing floods and landslides.
• As of 23 May, local media reported that a landslide left 20 people dead, dozens injured and traffic disruptions in the village of Al-Lassbah (Ta'izz province). The death toll may increase as search and rescue operation are still on going, as of 24 May.
• Severe weather, including heavy rain, strong winds and hail, has been affecting the southern and south-eastern provinces of the country over the past few days, causing floods.
• National authorities reported 12 people dead, four missing, 87 000 evacuated and more than 13 000 homes partially or fully damaged in the provinces of Fujian, Jiangxi, Hunan, Guangdong,
Guizhou and Guangxi, as of 24 May.
• Severe weather, including heavy rain, strong winds and hail, has been affecting the state of Western Australia over the past few days causing floods.
• According to media reports, several houses were damaged, traffic was disrupted and over 1 500 people were left without electricity due to fallen trees, as of 23 May.
The protracted relief and recovery operation (PRRO) requires new contributions urgently to avert possible pipeline breaks. WFP has prioritized general distributions and nutrition interventions for the refugees, to stretch available food stocks.
For the school feeding programme under the development operation, new contributions are required soon for WFP to deliver food before the beginning of the new school year, which starts in September.
- 39,962 Persons arrived at Yemeni coasts since January 2016
- 4,165 Refugee families provided with cash assistance since January 2016
- 1,283 Refugee children provided with child protection services since January 2016
- 154,811 Persons provided with NFIs since January 2016
WORKING WITH PARTNERS
- UNHCR leads the multi-sector response for refugees and asylum-seekers in urban settings and in Kharaz refugee camp. It introduced the Refugee Coordination Model to ensure a more inclusive UNHCR-led strategic planning, operational coordination, service delivery, and resource mobilization for refugee protection and assistance in Yemen. Regular interaction is maintained with authorities at national and local level, with international and national NGOs, and with refugee community leaders.
- UNHCR leads the Protection and the Shelter/CCCM Clusters for the IDP response throughout Yemen. UNHCR also co-leads the Task Force on Population Movements (TFPM) with IOM to collect, analyse and disseminate data, trends and characteristics of internal displacement in Yemen.
By Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International, World Humanitarian Summit, Istanbul, Turkey, 24 May 2016, 10:28 UTC
This speech was delivered at the World Humanitarian Summit on 24 May 2016 by Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen:
When thinking of how best to use my time here today, one option I seriously considered was to observe a three minute silence to mourn the demise of international norms and humanitarian law.
These are arguably the darkest times since the formation of the United Nations. Conflict is driving displacement and wreaking devastating consequences on civilians who are literally caught in the crossfire.
I come to this Summit straight after seeing and hearing first-hand the horrific tales of displaced people in Iraq and south-east Turkey – two windows into a shameful worldwide story.
The stark truth is that from Syria to Nigeria, Afghanistan to South Sudan, Burundi to Ukraine, conflict zones have become a free-for-all. The norms put in place to protect us are treated with complete and utter disdain.
Let me single out Yemen, where 2.8 million people – women, children, families – have been displaced in a conflict that has seen brutal violence against civilians and consistent disregard of international humanitarian law by both sides, including possible war crimes.
Even hospitals have been bombed multiple times, and schools shelled and destroyed.
Just two weeks ago, Amnesty International interviewed a 13-year-old boy who picked up a submunition near a spring that local people rely on for water. He said it was like “a small ball that you play with”. But this ball was an unexploded bomblet which ripped through his abdomen.
This is the world our children are growing up in. The binding obligations of international law that are supposed to protect us all are being treated with anything from indifference to outright contempt.
Without confronting this pernicious erosion of international humanitarian law, an already terrible humanitarian situation will only get worse.
And without accountability, there will be no stopping the downward spiral.
There are accountability mechanisms in place. They must be used. States must hold even their allies to account. We cannot turn a blind eye. If we do, the consequences of violations are on all of us.
Amnesty International will continue to investigate abuses of international law wherever they happen. We will pursue accountability for perpetrators, and truth, justice and reparations for victims. We will call on all states to support Security Council action aimed at preventing or ending mass atrocities
We will campaign to ensure states live up to their obligations to the unprecedented numbers who are displaced, and establish a global responsibility-sharing system for refugees that is up to the scale of the task. It is high time the richest countries live up to their flaunted claims of respect for human rights.
When I asked displaced families in camps near Fallujjah in Iraq what they wanted from this meeting today, the women were the first to speak up. They said: “We cannot suffer this pain anymore. We have waited far too long. Please tell them to act now.”
This is happening on our watch. Succeeding generations will judge us for our success or failure in these dark times. Let us convert the warm words into action. Let us turn the tide on injustice.
Sanaa, Yemen | AFP | Tuesday 5/24/2016 - 08:52 GMT
A bomb hit a university campus in the rebel-held Yemeni capital Sanaa on Tuesday killing two people at an event commemorating the country's 1990 unification, a security official said.
Several people were also seriously wounded, the official said, adding that death toll was likely to rise.
The event was organised by the Huthi Shiite rebels who have controlled the capital since September 2014 despite a 14-month-old Saudi-led military intervention in support of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.
The Huthis were commemorating the May 22, 1990 unification of Yemen after centuries of separation between the north and the south, where British colonial rule was followed by a Soviet-backed communist regime.
There was no immediate claim for Tuesday's bombing but both Al-Qaeda and its jihadist rival the Islamic State group have carried out past bombings against the Huthis, whose Zaidi Shiite faith they regard as heretical.
Suicide bombings claimed by IS in March year killed 120 worshippers at mosques frequented by the Huthis.
© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse
• The Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) is installing Information Technology (IT) equipment in Al Hudaydah to deploy ETC services in the common United Nations (UN) building.
• The ETC completed the installation of a Communications Centre (COMCEN) in Ibb. This COMCEN allows humanitarians to utilize radios and satellite communications, increasing their safety and security.
• An assessment mission took place at the VOS Apollo, the new inter-agency passenger boat, for the possible installation of a marine satellite system. This boat will be used by humanitarians travelling between Djibouti and Aden.
The ETC is currently supporting humanitarian operations in Sana’a, Aden, Al Hudaydah, Sa’ada and Ibb. Ta’izz and Al Mukalla, where the ETC plans to deploy vital communication services, continue to be inaccessible due to security concerns.
A ceasefire was declared on 11 April ahead of United Nations (UN)-backed peace talks in Kuwait in May 2016. However, the security situation across the country has remained volatile and unpredictable.
23 May 2016 – The delegation of the Government of Yemen returned to the negotiating table in Kuwait in the latest round of peace talks today, with the United Nations envoy for the conflict-torn country holding a plenary this morning with both delegations, a UN spokesperson said.
In Qatar over the weekend, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon participated in a trilateral meeting with the Amir of Qatar and President Hadi of Yemen, which the Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, also attended, according to a statement issued by Mr. Ban’s office.
To President Hadi, the Secretary-General underlined that peace negotiations are rarely smooth, but that there was a need for “commitment and perseverance” by all sides.
“He said he strongly hoped that the talks that will shortly resume in Kuwait will lead to concrete results, and he appreciated Qatar’s support,” said the statement, which is dated 21 May.
During the meeting, Mr. Ban also requested the special envoy to respond to the recent letter received from the Government of Yemen. At the time, the President of Yemen confirmed that he would send the Government’s delegation back to the talks as requested by the Amir of Qatar and the Secretary-General, according to the statement.
The Secretary-General added that, in parallel to the peace talks, all parties needed to redouble their efforts to provide and facilitate humanitarian and other supplies, including fuel, to alleviate the “appalling living conditions” of millions of Yemeni citizens, the statement said.
Following a meeting between the UN Secretary-General, the emir of Qatar and Yemeni President Hadi on 21 May, the Yemeni government is going to rejoin UN-brokered peace talks in Kuwait, ending a four-day boycott.
Unexploded cluster bombs dropped by the Saudi-led coalition on northern Yemen have turned certain areas into "minefields" that will endanger the lives and livelihoods of civilians even after the end of the hostilities, according to Amnesty International. Demining officials, local residents and first responders reported they continued to see civilians, including children, injured by explosions, with a rise in casualties, particularly in areas along the Saudi Arabia-Yemen border in Hajjah and Sa’da governorates.
Yemen’s demining agency (YEMAC), started clearing and detonating the weapons in Sa’da and Hajjah in early April 2016. While the full extent of cluster munition contamination is not yet known, YEMAC cleared at least 418 cluster bomb submunitions, 810 fuses and artillery remnants, 51 mortars and more than 70 missiles in Sa’da and Hajjah governorates in the first three weeks. The Center had to abruptly halt its clearing operations on 26 April after three of its staff members were killed in a cluster munition incident.
The ongoing fuel shortage is resulting in long queues at the fuel stations in Sana’a and increase in prices in Sana’a and Hodeidah governorate.
World: No Protection, No Respect: Health Workers and Health Facilities Under Attack: 2015 and Early 2016
International law dating back more than 150 years holds that in all armed conflicts, whether internal or international, parties must not attack or interfere with health workers, facilities, ambulances, and people who are wounded or sick. The Geneva Conventions and customary international humanitarian law provide that parties have a duty to distinguish between military and civilian objects and to take precautions to avoid harm to hospitals even when a military target is nearby; that hospitals and clinics may not be taken over for military or security purposes—and that even if they are, parties to a conflict have an obligation to minimize harm to civilians inside; that health professionals may not be subjected to punishment for adhering to obligations to provide care consistent with their ethical duties, including treating the sick and wounded without discrimination; and that access to health care may not be obstructed through such practices as unreasonably delaying or blocking passage of ambulances, supply transports, medical staff, and the wounded and sick. International human rights law imposes similar obligations.
This report reviews attacks on and interference with hospitals, health workers, ambulances, medical supply transports, and patients in armed conflict and times of political violence that violated these obligations in 2015 and during the first three months of 2016.
ATTACKS ON AND INTERFERENCE WITH HEALTH CARE
Attacks on health services take many forms but can be grouped into four major categories:
Bombing, shelling, and looting facilities or transports, in some cases as a result of targeting the facility or transport, and in other cases because of an indiscriminate attack that failed to take precautions to avoid harm to the facility.
Violence inflicted on health workers independent of an attack on a facility or transport.
Military takeover of hospitals, or fighting in and around hospitals.
Obstruction of access to health care, medicine, and essential supplies. Bombing, shelling, burning, looting, and other violence inflicted on health facilities and transports
Hospitals, ambulances, and medical supply transports have been attacked and looted in many countries, sometimes intentionally and sometimes due to attackers failing to take precautions to distinguish between military and civilian objects. These attacks have led to the deaths of health workers, medical staff, and others during initial attacks and during ongoing violence following the attacks.
In five countries—Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen—hospitals were subjected to aerial bombing, as well as to explosives launched from the ground. In Syria, where the most rigorous reporting has taken place, at least 122 attacks on hospitals were documented in 2015, with some facilities hit multiple times. Syrian government forces and their Russian allies engaged in vicious “double-tap” attacks, launching a second strike after rescuers came to the aid of those wounded in the first attack. In four such double-tap attacks, 31 people were killed and more than 150 wounded. In Yemen, health facilities were attacked at least 100 times; a Saudi-led coalition indiscriminately bombed many hospitals, including in one case unleashing a two-hour bombardment. Opposing Houthi and allied forces have committed violations as well, shelling hospitals from the ground.
In Afghanistan, at least 92 acts of violence against health facilities and health workers killed 55 people. Forty-two people, including 24 patients, 14 health workers and four caretakers, were killed as a result of a United States military air attack on the Kunduz Trauma Center, the only facility of its kind in northern Afghanistan (whose coordinates were known to all parties to the conflict). Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which operated the facility, phoned and texted US authorities during the strike seeking to stop the attack, to no avail. In Iraq, there were at least 61 attacks on health facilities and personnel. In one of them, Iraqi Security Forces bombed a maternity and children’s hospital, killing 31 people, including at least eight children, and wounding 39 others. In Libya, the kidney disease and internal medicine wards and staff dormitories of a hospital were bombed.
In Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Somalia, South Sudan, and Sudan, health facilities have been burned and/or looted, medical supply vehicles attacked on the road, and medical staff abducted; these attacks have often forced the suspension of medical activities in the affected areas. In Central African Republic, there were more than 200 attacks on and looting of humanitarian compounds and transports, many of which were providing health care to a population in desperate need; there were 30 such attacks in Mali, as well. In South Sudan, health programs and nongovernmental organization (NGO) compounds in the Upper Nile region were repeatedly attacked during 2015, and multiple health workers were killed in separate incidents.
Violence inflicted on health workers independent of attack on a facility or transport
Horrific violence has been inflicted on health workers, patients and their families, and staff independent of the impact of shelling, bombing, and burning. In Democratic Republic of the Congo, seven patients and a nurse were brutally murdered inside a clinic. In one atrocity in Sudan, security forces attacked and looted the town of Golo in West Darfur, encouraging civilians to seek protection in a hospital. The security forces subsequently detained the civilians in the hospital for weeks, raped at least 60 women, and executed at least three people.
In Syria, 27% of the health workers killed in 2015 were shot, executed, or tortured to death. In Iraq and Libya, the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has forced health workers, under threat of death, to give its fighters priority in treatment, including moving from their places of work at civilian hospitals to ISIL facilities housing injured fighters. ISIL executed at least 12 health workers in 2015. Health workers have been ambushed, abducted, and killed—often while in marked medical vehicles—in Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Iraq, Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen.
Globally, health workers who participate in vaccination programs, as well as police and other security personnel charged with protecting them, are especially vulnerable to attack, particularly those involved in polio prevention (table 1). Their necessary travel to remote and dangerous areas puts them at a high risk of murder and abduction.
Military takeover of health facilities and fighting around hospitals
In some cases, fighting took place directly on hospital grounds. In Iraq, there were at least two instances of firing directly at a hospital; in one of them, combatants were fighting from the roof while the opposing forces shelled the hospital. Also in Iraq, ISIL forces have taken over civilian hospitals for their own use, sometimes evicting all civilian patients. In Thailand, armed insurgents took over a hospital to stage an attack on a nearby government security post.
Military forces have entered hospitals to remove enemy fighters, often severely disrupting care and assaulting patients or staff. On one occasion, 300 fighters in Yemen entered a hospital and forced staff to reveal the location of two Houthi fighters, who were then removed and executed outside the hospital; Houthi forces retaliated by firing repeatedly at the hospital. In Afghanistan, Afghan National Security Forces took control of clinics five times to search for medical supplies or wounded enemies, disrupting care and intimidating patients and staff. In one case, two patients were removed from the hospital and health workers were arrested and beaten. Israeli security forces entered Palestinian hospitals on at least eight occasions to conduct investigations, during which they interfered with patient care and, on some occasions, assaulted patients and/or health workers.
Obstruction of access to health care, medicine, and essential supplies
Obstruction of access to health care took place in many of the countries included in this report. This was carried out through blocking, unreasonably delaying, or threatening medical supply and aid transports, ambulances, health workers, and patients and their families.
Parties to each conflict have frequently restricted passage of health and other humanitarian aid, often in dire health situations. In Syria, the Assad government has continued to block humanitarian aid to besieged and hard-to-reach populations who are at risk of starvation. In South Sudan, parties to the conflict have periodically suspended or obstructed the flow of aid to people in desperate need, who have been displaced and are living in precarious settings. Sudan has severely restricted NGO access to areas of great need for health care aid in Darfur. The government of Iraq has prevented the delivery of health supplies to ISIL-controlled areas, including Mosul, Fallujah, and Anbar.
And in the wake of violence in September 2015, medical teams in the Central African Republic were unable to reach many people in urgent need of medical care because of threats of violence or blockades.
Medical aid has been obstructed in low-intensity conflicts as well. The Turkish government, which is engaged in military action against armed Kurdish separatists, imposed a weeks-long curfew preventing all civilian movement in and out of the city of Cizre and other towns in the southeast. As part of the curfew, security forces prevented the evacuation of wounded and sick civilians, some of whom died as a result. In Ukraine, armed groups suspended MSF humanitarian medical programs for two months in 2015. Throughout the year, restrictions imposed by both sides on individuals crossing conflict lines severely curtailed civilian access to medical care and the delivery of medical supplies, including much-needed medication for HIV, tuberculosis, and drug addiction. In Jerusalem and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Israeli security forces created new checkpoints and refused to allow priority of passage to Palestinian ambulances until receiving authorization through bureaucratic channels, thereby delaying the transport of patients who were in the midst of emergencies by up to an hour.
THE AFTEREFFECTS OF ATTACKS
In some cases, in addition to the deaths and injuries inflicted during attacks, the assaults have negatively affected the health of people in the area who need urgent care. In South Sudan, for example, shortly after an attack on Kodok Hospital, 11 people in need of surgery died. In Yemen, infants in a pediatric hospital died when ventilators cut out as a result of an airstrike. In Syria, local security forces would not approve the inclusion of surgical kits and intravenous fluids on a convoy to eastern Aleppo city, depriving more than 33,000 people of these vital medical supplies. The far-reaching effects of these attacks and strategies can be assessed in different ways:
Loss or lack of access to health facilities.
Flight of health workers.
People deprived of health care.
Increased mortality or morbidity risk.
Loss or lack of access to health facilities
In Afghanistan, 23 health clinics in six provinces were closed in early 2016 as a result of violence and insecurity.
In Syria, 57% of public hospitals are not functioning or are only partially functioning; that percentage does not include the informal field hospitals established in opposition-controlled areas that have been subjected to relentless bombing. In Yemen, after a single year of war, 600 health facilities—representing 25% of the country’s overall capacity to deliver health care—were not functioning because of destruction or a lack of staff and/ or supplies. In Libya, 40% of all health facilities are closed because of damage, lack of supplies and staff, or insecurity.
In South Sudan, a scorched-earth war has closed 55% of health facilities in the Upper Nile region, leaving one hospital to serve one million people.
Most health facilities are no longer functioning in Central African Republic. In Sudan, since 2011, the Sudanese Air Force has bombed 26 health facilities, including hospitals, clinics, and health units, leaving only two hospitals to serve 1.2 million people. In Mali, from August through September 2015, security incidents shut down all access to health care in the Mopti, Timbuktu, Kidal, and Gao regions. Additionally, targeted attacks forced Mali’s main international health partner in the region to suspend its activities and relocate staff, resulting in a complete ack of health assistance and the closure of all referral health centers in the districts of Tenekou and Youwaro.
In Thailand, health workers have had to cut back evening hours to avoid being exposed to attacks by insurgent groups.
Flight of health workers
Attacks often lead to the flight of health workers and consequent loss of health services capacity. Half of the health workers who practiced in Syria prior to 2011 and 95% of physicians living in Syria’s major city of Aleppo before the war have left the country. In Iraq, 45% of health professionals have emigrated since 2014. In Libya, 80% of the foreign nurses, who were the backbone of the country’s medical staff before 2011, have been evacuated.
In northern Nigeria, almost all health workers have fled areas controlled by Boko Haram, resulting in the closure of 450 health facilities.
People deprived of health care
One way of assessing the consequences of lost facilities and medical staff is to estimate the number of people who need access to health services but do not have it. Even single events or the loss of a single facility can lead to a dramatic decline in access for large numbers of people.
In Democratic Republic of the Congo, for instance, an armed group looted a town and brutally murdered seven patients and a nurse in a clinic, leading to the closure of the only health facility that served 35,000 people. In another case, two MSF staff were robbed and kidnapped between Kitchanga and Mweso, Masisi Territory in North Kivu, temporarily suspending medical programs that had conducted 185,000 outpatient visits and 6,000 hospitalizations in the prior 10 months. In South Sudan, violence against a health clinic in Pibor forced movement of key health functions to a more distant location, depriving 170,000 people of access to secondary health care. The destruction of a single hospital in Yemen led to deprivation of services for 200,000 people.
More broadly, UN agencies report a staggering number of people in need of health care in emergencies. Several factors contribute to the need, including civilian injuries, population displacement, and lack of available resources for humanitarian aid. But attacks on and interference with health care are major contributors to this enormous problem. In conflicts with some of the most pervasive attacks on health services, UN reports show the following figures for people deprived of health care:
• Iraq: 8.5 million people
• Libya: 1.9 million people
• Mali: 2.25 million people
• Somalia: 3.2 million people
• Syria: 11.5 million people
• Yemen: 14.1 million people.
Increased mortality and morbidity risk
Another way of measuring the impact of lost medical staff and facilities is by examining the increased risk of mortality and morbidity. Beyond attacks on health facilities and health workers, factors such as lack of food and clean water as a result of armed conflict are often highly significant. Yet diminished health capacity may well exacerbate the impacts of these and related factors.
For example, in Yemen, apart from death from traumatic injuries, lack of access to health care and lack of immunizations have resulted in the deaths of nearly 10,000 children under the age of five. UNICEF estimates that 2.5 million Yemeni children are at high risk of diarrheal diseases, 1.3 million are at risk of acute respiratory tract infections, 2.6 million are at risk of measles, and more than 320,000 are at risk of severe acute malnutrition. In Syria, lack of safe drinking water, sanitation, electricity, and fuel has made Syrians more vulnerable to outbreaks of diarrheal diseases, typhoid, hepatitis A, and other vaccine-preventable diseases. Inadequate or nonexistent treatment of chronic diseases—including diabetes, asthma, kidney disease, and cardiovascular disease—has increased the risk of death from these diseases. Shortages of skilled birth attendants and obstetricians have increased maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality. In South Sudan, attacks on health clinics, humanitarian compounds, and aid workers led to a major decrease in health capacity at a time when there was an unprecedented outbreak of nearly 2.28 million cases of malaria.
Aden, Yemen | AFP | Monday 5/23/2016 - 19:19 GMT
Twin bombings claimed by the Islamic State group hit Yemeni forces in Aden on Monday, killing at least 41 people in the latest of a spate of attacks in the southern city.
The attacks in Aden -- which is serving as the temporary government headquarters after rebels forced authorities from the capital -- follow a major military operation against jihadists in parts of southern and southeastern Yemen.
Backed by a Saudi-led coalition, forces loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi are battling both Sunni extremists and Iran-backed Shiite rebels.
In the first attack, a suicide bomber killed 34 people queueing to enlist at a recruitment centre near the Badr base in Aden's Khormaksar district, said Brigadier General Nasser al-Sarei, the commander of Yemen's special security forces.
A subsequent explosion inside the base killed seven soldiers, he said.
Medics said that 38 people were wounded in the twin attacks.
In a statement posted online, IS said one of its fighters detonated an explosives belt among "apostate soldiers" at a recruitment centre, followed by the bombing at a gate of the Badr base.
The jihadist group, which has seized control of large parts of Syria and Iraq, also claimed responsibility Monday for a wave of bombings in Syrian coastal cities that killed more nearly 150 people.
A local resident in Aden described the scene of the Badr explosions as "horrible", saying body parts had been blown dozens of metres (yards) away.
"They came to complete the procedure of their recruitment and receive their first salary," he said, speaking of the young men who had gathered outside the army centre.
Abandoned slippers and sandals, apparently from the victims, covered the area, television footage showed.
Aden resident Ramzi al-Fadhli said "wailing filled the air" as women identified the remains of relatives at Al-Jumhuriyah Hospital, where at least 32 bodies were taken.
Peace talks resume
Aden has seen a wave of attacks in recent months claimed by Al-Qaeda or its jihadist rival IS after government forces drove Shiite Huthi rebels out of the port city in July with support from the Saudi-led coalition.
The coalition launched operations in Yemen in March last year after the rebels seized control of Sanaa and other parts of the country, forcing Hadi's government to flee the capital Sanaa.
Al-Qaeda -- which has a long presence in the Arabian Peninsula country -- and IS have exploited the power vacuum created by the conflict to expand their zones of control in the south and southeast.
In the past two months, government and coalition forces have hit back, driving Al-Qaeda militants out of the Hadramawt provincial capital of Mukalla, which they had controlled for a year.
But attacks on security forces have left scores dead.
On May 1, four guards were killed in a bombing that targeted the convoy of Aden's police chief General Shallal Shayae, in the second such attack on him in a week.
Several attacks have also targeted troops in Hadramawt since government forces ended Al-Qaeda rule in Mukalla.
Earlier this month, 47 police were killed in a series of bombings near Mukalla.
The European Union condemned the attacks in a statement, saying they "highlight the importance of restoring peace and the rule of law throughout the country".
UN-brokered peace talks between the government and rebels resumed Monday in Kuwait after they had broken off a week ago.
UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed urged the two parties "to exert all efforts to achieve a sustainable solution for the sake of easing the suffering of Yemenis".
The government had demanded a written pledge from the rebels and their allies recognising an April 2015 UN Security Council resolution calling for their withdrawal from the capital and other territories, as well as the legitimacy of Hadi.
Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdulmalek al-Mikhlafi tweeted Sunday that the government had agreed to give the peace talks a "last chance".
Fighting since the coalition intervention in March 2015 has killed more than 6,400 people, displaced about 2.8 million and left 82 percent of Yemen's population in need of aid, the United Nations says.
© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse
Aden, Yemen | AFP | Monday 5/23/2016 - 09:10 GMT
Twin bombings claimed by Islamic State group targeted the Yemeni army in second city Aden Monday killing at least 41 people, most of them would-be recruits, a military official said.
A suicide bomber killed 34 people queueing to enlist at a recruitment centre near the Badr base in the Khormaksar district, said Brigadier General Nasser al-Sarei, commander of special security forces.
A second explosion inside the base afterwards killed seven soldiers, he said.
In a statement posted online, IS said one of its militants detonated an explosives belt among "apostate soldiers" at a recruitment centre, followed by a bomb that exploded at the gate of the Badr base.
Aden is the headquarters of the government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi as it battles Shiite rebels who control the capital Sanaa.
The port city has seen a spate of attacks in recent months claimed by Al-Qaeda or its jihadist rival IS.
Government forces drove Huthi rebels out of Aden in July with support from a Saudi-led coalition.
The two jihadist groups exploited the power vacuum created by the conflict in Yemen to expand their presence in the south and southeast.
But over the past two months, government and coalition forces have hit back, also driving the jihadists out of the Hadramawt provincial capital of Mukalla, which they had controlled for a year.
© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse
Sanaa, Yemen | AFP | Monday 5/23/2016 - 07:44 GMT
A landslide caused by heavy rain has swept through a village in southwestern Yemen, killing at least 20 people, local media said on Monday.
Dozens of others were wounded and the death toll was likely to rise as rescue teams struggled to reach the village of Al-Lassbah in a mountainous district of Taez province, the rebel-controlled Saba news agency said.
The area was hit by "heavy rain that caused a collapse of rocks on houses," Saba said, citing a local source.
The impoverished south Arabian Peninsula country is frequently hit by heavy downpours which trigger landslides and floods. In April, 24 people were killed in northern Yemen following heavy rain which caused a dam to burst.
Taez province is largely under the control of Shiite Huthi rebels who have seized large parts of Yemen, prompting a Saudi-led military intervention in support of the country's internationally recognised government.
© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse
By Kimberly Flowers
In a world that has become increasingly interconnected and chaotic, with more displaced persons since World War II, and with an array of humanitarian disasters that has outstripped the international community’s budgets and capacity to respond, why should global food security remain an imperative development priority? Why has the United States invested so heavily, to the tune of $5.6 billion over the past five years, in agricultural development and nutrition to reduce extreme poverty?
Agriculture’s Economic Power
Agriculture is the primary source of employment and income for 70 percent of the world’s rural poor, and it contributes more than a third of gross domestic product (GDP) in many of the least developed countries. In light of evidence that GDP growth originating in agriculture can be four times more effective than growth in other sectors in raising incomes of the extremely poor, the economic leverage of agriculture for development is hard to dispute.
Aligning foreign assistance with country-led strategies for agricultural growth is the most effective approach to achieving results for vulnerable smallholder farmers, their families, and their communities. Government ownership is critical to sustaining development investments and to ensuring a sound policy environment for private-sector engagement. In order for agriculture to reach its potential to generate employment, raise smallholder incomes, and catalyze markets, both the will of country leadership to dedicate resources and the ability of local and international private companies to invest along the value chain are required. In some cases, this translates into tough policy reforms that take time to understand, to implement, and to enforce.
National Security Risks
There is a causal relationship between food insecurity and political instability, as escalating and volatile food prices have resulted in urban riots, toppled governments, and regional unrest from the Caribbean to the Middle East. A paper released by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs in April 2016 reminds us that “food price shocks can act as a catalyst for both nonviolent and armed conflict.” Global food security undergirds economic security, national security, and human security; it goes well beyond a moral obligation or humanitarian response.
The intelligence community recognizes this nexus and the increasing security risk in the face of dwindling resources. Last October, the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence produced a report stating that “the overall risk of food insecurity in many countries of strategic importance to the United States will increase during the next 10 years because of production, transport, and market disruptions to local food availability, declining purchasing power, and counterproductive government policies.” One of the greatest global development challenges that wealthy and poor countries face together is increasing agricultural production to meet shifting consumer preferences and a growing population while using less water and fewer hectares and managing the unpredictable effects of climate change.
A Changing Global Climate
Erratic weather patterns, emerging pests and diseases, and extreme natural disasters are among the overwhelming obstacles to ensuring that all people have access to safe, affordable, and nutritious food. The U.S. Global Research Program, which is a consortium of 13 federal agencies, published a report in December 2015 that said “climate change is very likely to affect global, regional, and local food security by disrupting food availability, decreasing access to food, and making utilization more difficult.”
A changing global climate poses a unique set of interwoven challenges to agricultural growth in developed and developing countries alike. Shifting and increasingly variable temperatures and modified rainfall and humidity throughout the growing season impact not only crop maturation, but also the array of weeds, pests, and diseases that farmers must contend with. Increasingly arid conditions across the Sahel and soil salinity in South Asia both highlight the need for improved seed varieties, irrigation techniques, and other inputs to help smallholders adapt to new conditions. It is also a reminder of the importance of investing in and scaling up innovative technological solutions from transgenic crops to mobile solutions. Without strategic interventions directed at mitigating climate change–induced agricultural productivity losses, the consistency and predictability of staple crop supplies and prices in local markets is far less assured. Because households in many developing countries spend over 60 percent of their budgets on food, even modest price fluctuations mean that many will go hungry.
Volatility as the New Norm
According to the World Meteorological Organization, 2016’s _El Niño_ is one of the most extreme weather patterns on record, worsening the existing impacts of climate change in many places in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. In Ethiopia, the government estimates that 10.2 million people will need humanitarian assistance in 2016 due to a drought severely exacerbated by the effects of _El Niño_. Meanwhile, it is unlikely that the conflicts in Syria, South Sudan, Nigeria, and Yemen will be quickly resolved; the protracted unrest has disrupted agricultural production and market activity and damaged critical infrastructure, causing billions of dollars in losses that will take decades to recover from.
The Malnutrition Continuum
The irreversible effects of childhood malnutrition are not limited to conflict environments but may contribute to their instability. Poor nutrition causes about 3.1 million deaths among children under five each year, and one in three children in developing countries is stunted. Undernutrition in early childhood has been linked to adverse health outcomes throughout life in addition to reduced educational attainment and lower earnings as an adult. In the long run, malnutrition undermines a country’s economic growth potential by diminishing the cognitive and physical capacity of its emergent workforce. Addressing nutritional deficits is thus a critical component of any strategy that seeks to harness the potential of youth.
Development Glass Half Full
Agricultural development may take time to show results, but with the right kind of partnerships and country leadership, it works. While Feed the Future, the U.S. global hunger and nutrition initiative launched by the Obama administration, has room for improvement, its achievements in poverty reduction and improved nutrition in select focus countries are laudable. Smallholder farmers are learning improved cultivation and management practices and utilizing new technologies. The private sector has been engaged: small and large actors alike are making investments across various value chains. Children are eating more diverse and nutritionally complete diets. And the United States has established itself as a global development leader by fulfilling its promise to address food insecurity while leveraging substantial investments of other countries to complement its initiative.
There are few topics that have broad bipartisan support in both congressional chambers, but global food security has proven to bring both sides of the aisle together in solidarity. The Global Food Security Act, which would codify Feed the Future into law and authorize $1 billion a year for the initiative, was passed by the House on April 12 with 370 votes of support and by the Senate with unanimous consent on April 20. There are slight differences in the two versions, including an emergency food aid component, that will need to be worked out in conference, but it looks likely that the bill will be signed into law ahead of a new administration in 2017. This is nothing short of a ground-breaking moment that signals strong U.S. leadership and, more importantly, continues services to the millions of smallholder farmers and families who currently receive direct support to sustainably increase their incomes and to improve their diets.
[This essay was initially published as a chapter in Global Development Monitor: A Changing World, edited by Conor M. Savoy (Washington, D.C.: CSIS, May 2016).]
Kimberly Flowers is director of the Global Food Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.
23 May 2016, 00:01 UTC
- 16 new civilian casualties, including nine children, documented in aftermath of Saudi Arabia-led coalition’s cluster bomb use
- Internally displaced people returning home to de facto ‘minefields’
- Use of US, UK and Brazilian-made cluster munitions documented
- Urgent need for international demining assistance
Children and their families returning home in northern Yemen after a year of conflict are at grave risk of serious injury and death from thousands of unexploded cluster bomb submunitions, Amnesty International said, following a 10-day research trip to Sa’da, Hajjah, and Sana’a governorates.
International assistance is urgently needed to clear contaminated areas and countries with influence should urge the Saudi Arabia-led coalition forces to stop using cluster munitions, which are internationally banned and inherently indiscriminate.
“Even after hostilities have died down, the lives and livelihoods of civilians, including young children, continue to be on the line in Yemen as they return to de facto minefields. They cannot live in safety until contaminated areas in and around their homes and fields are identified and cleared of deadly cluster bomb submunitions and other unexploded ordnance,” said Lama Fakih, Senior Crisis Advisor at Amnesty International.
On its most recent mission to northern Yemen, Amnesty International found evidence of US, UK and Brazilian cluster munitions used by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition forces. The use of cluster bombs is banned under the Convention on Cluster Munitions, to which the UK is a State Party.
The organization interviewed 30 people, including survivors of cluster bomb submunitions and other unexploded ordnance (UXO) as well as their families, eyewitnesses, demining experts, activists and first responders.
It documented 10 new cases in which 16 civilians were injured or killed by cluster munitions between July 2015 and April 2016. This includes nine children, two of whom were killed. These casualties took place days, weeks, and sometimes months after the bombs were dropped by coalition forces in Yemen.
With a lull in fighting along the Yemeni-Saudi border since a local ceasefire was agreed in March 2016, civilians began returning home and felt safer moving around the governorates of Hajjah and Sa’da. But demining officials, local residents and first responders told Amnesty International they continued to see civilians injured by explosions, with a rise in casualties from unexploded ordnance particularly in areas along the Saudi Arabia-Yemen border including in Midi, Haradh, Hayran, Bakil al-Mir, and Mustabah in Hajjah governorate and al-Safra, Razih, Shada and Baqim in Sa’da governorate.
Many civilians, including children, are now exposed to potentially deadly submunitions and other explosive remnants of war without any knowledge of their presence or the risk they pose. Meanwhile, recent flood waters have moved the submunitions and other unexploded ordnance into areas where civilians do not expect them to be.
Up to this point, the Saudi Arabia-led coalition has not formally confirmed its use of cluster munitions. However, in an interview with CNN on 11 January 2016, the spokesperson of the coalition’s military forces, General Ahmed al-Asiri, categorically denied that the coalition had used cluster munitions in attacks anywhere in Yemen other than in one instance, describing the use of air-dropped CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapons on a military target in Hajjah in April 2015.
Civilians describe dire need of assistance to clear contaminated areas
Recognizing the serious risk unexploded ordnance presents to the civilian population, Yemen’s sole demining agency, the Yemen Executive Mine Action Centre (YEMAC), began clearing and detonating the weapons in Sa’da and Hajjah in early April 2016, despite being ill-equipped and trained.
While the full extent of cluster munition contamination is not yet known, in the first three weeks of their work, YEMAC records show its teams working in Sa’da and Hajjah governorates cleared at least 418 cluster bomb submunitions, 810 fuses and artillery remnants, 51 mortars and more than 70 missiles.
Tragically, the centre had to abruptly halt its clearing operations on 26 April after three of its staff members, Mohammed Ahmed Ali Al Sharafi, Mustafa Abdullah Saleh Al Harazi, and Hussein Abdo Mohssien Al Salami, were killed in a cluster munition incident while carrying out their work in Hayran in Hajjah governorate.
The Director of YEMAC, Ahmed Yahya Alawi, told Amnesty International that the centre’s clearance work was suspended pending an investigation into the men’s deaths, but that he believed the deaths were caused by one of the men’s failure to take adequate precautions in moving the submunitions and his proximity to his colleagues when doing so. He blamed the men’s inadequate training and lamented the ineffectiveness and age of their equipment.
“[Different] types of cluster munitions have been used [by the coalition] but we have only worked with four of the types before. We were surprised by the new kind. They are more sensitive… It is difficult to get explosives to detonate the bombs but storing them is dangerous” he said. “We need to bring in trainers from the countries that made the weapons to train the employees…[and] we are looking for better technology to destroy these bombs.”
“Donor countries must act quickly to support local efforts to safely and urgently locate, mark and clear areas contaminated by unexploded ordnance and educate affected communities on how to avoid danger in the meantime,” said Lama Fakih.
“Failure to do so will be a ticking time bomb for civilians, including children, living in affected areas.”
Children are particularly at risk of picking up and playing with submunitions, which they mistake for toys, given their small size and shape. Some roughly resemble drink cans, while others resemble balls.
Amnesty International interviewed a 13-year-old boy who was injured in the late afternoon on a day in January 2016 after apparently picking up a submunition near a spring that locals rely on for water in Noug’a, a small village surrounded by agricultural land in al-Safra, Sa’da governorate, approximately 20-25 kilometres from the border with Saudi Arabia. According to locals interviewed by Amnesty International, the area is separated from the frontlines by a few kilometres and during the heavy fighting, they hear the sound of incoming and outgoing ground-launched attacks.
The victim said the bomblets were green and shaped like “a small ball that you play with.” This description is consistent with the US-made BLU-63 cluster bomb submunitions.
“I saw the bomb [submunition] close to where we were filling water and as I was walking along I saw it [on the ground]. I picked it up and I threw it [to the side] and it exploded. I got hurt and then my brother went to get help…” He was hospitalized for two months and had an operation on his abdomen. He told Amnesty International that there are still submunitions next to the spring.
On 1 March, “Walid” (children’s names have been changed for their security) another 11-year-old from a nearby area, was also hurt by a submunition, losing three of his fingers and breaking his jaw. His brother, “Samih,” an eight year old, was killed.
Walid told Amnesty International that he and Samih were near the village of Fard, al-Safra directorate in Sa’da, on 1 March when they encountered multiple submunitions while herding goats in a valley. He said that he and Samih were carrying around and playing with submunitions for several hours when one eventually exploded around 1pm, killing Samih instantly and injuring Walid. Amnesty International observed that Walid lost three fingers on his right hand and that he had had an operation to insert steel plates in his left jaw, which was broken in the blast. He also sustained shrapnel injuries to his chest and legs.
“We go down every day to the valley to herd goats, where there are many small bombs. We found four of them in the morning… they were cylindrical with a red ribbon. We carried them with us while herding. At around 1pm, I started to take the red string with my right hand and pull and [Samih] pulled on the other end of it and then it went off and I fell back. [Samih] was hurt in his stomach and he had fallen down too. We didn’t know it would hurt us."
Based on the description, these appear to be ground-launched “ZP 39” DPICM submunitions, which have been documented by Human Rights Watch in northern Yemen in May 2015.
On 16 April in a village in Hajjah governorate around 10 kilometres from the Saudi Arabian border, a 12-year-old boy was also killed and his nine-year-old brother injured when they played with cluster bomb submunitions while they herded goats in the valley nearby. According to family members, fighting fronts are a few kilometres closer to the border and local residents told Amnesty International that fighters were sometimes forced to retreat into nearby villages to seek shelter from Saudi fire.
The nine-year-old boy who survived told Amnesty International:
“I found the bomb and I went and gave it to my brother so he can have one and I had one. He hit them against each other and they exploded and I found myself lying on the ground. The explosion pushed me back [several metres]. Two or three days before the accident, my friend and I used to go and collect the bombs and put them in a bag and hide them under and between the trees. They have a white ribbon.”
His 12-year-old brother was killed on the spot, with his abdomen torn open and his arm severed.
The boys’ father, who has 13 other children, told Amnesty International that the family had only recently returned to the area, after being displaced by airstrikes. He said they do not go back to the valley after the incident, but there are no safe spaces to herd their goats: “In the area next to us, there are bombs hanging off the trees,” he said.
Other goat herders told Amnesty International the prevalence of cluster bomb submunitions in grazing areas has forced them to keep their goats locked up and feed them straw, which is costly and not sustainable. In most cases farmers and herders told Amnesty International they had no choice but to work in contaminated areas despite the risks.
“The significant number of submunitions used by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition forces and the high dud rates have not only killed and maimed, but also severely damaged livelihoods by killing livestock and turning agricultural land into de facto minefields, interfering with animal herding as well as harvesting of banana, mango and tomato crops,” said Lama Fakih.
In many instances, civilians returning home told Amnesty International that they have had to resort to removing submunitions themselves, fearing that children will pick them up or their livestock will be injured.
Hindi Ibrahim, a 25-year-old father of two from Dugheij Village, Hayran, Hajjah governorate, told Amnesty International how his arm was injured by an explosion when he and other villagers attempted to clear hundreds of cluster bomb submunitions from their village:
“The original strike happened late July/last August during the day and [some of] the bomblets exploded. There were also Apaches [helicopters] that shot at people as they ran away. There were 500 pieces in the village everywhere … we wanted to remove them. Some were inside the house in the courtyard and kitchen…[YEMAC] kept on promising they would come but they never came. They told us they were busy in other areas. By February, we were forced to clean them ourselves because of the [risk to] children. At the time I went into the house and put 10 [submunitions] on a tray and carried them out of the house. The bombs started hitting against each other and one went off. I dropped the tray and the rest went off.”
Hindi Ibrahim sustained shrapnel injuries in his right elbow, right abdomen and right hip.
Amnesty International also interviewed his brother, Weedi Ibrahim, 30, and his nephew, Yahya Shawqi, 15, who were both also injured when they handled submunitions in the village. According to Hindi Ibrahim, two other villagers were killed in recent months when they picked up submunitions and they went off.
First confirmed use of UK-made cluster munitions in Yemen
Since the start of the Saudi Arabia-led air campaign on 25 March 2015, Amnesty International has documented the use of six types of cluster munitions in Yemen (see full table below) by the coalition forces. Other credible sources including Human Rights Watch have also documented their use.
Amnesty International’s most recent mission confirmed, for the first time, that coalition forces have used UK-manufactured BL-755 cluster munitions in Yemen. The BL-755 was manufactured by Hunting Engineering Ltd in the 1970s. This variant, designed to be dropped from the UK Tornado fighter jet, contains 147 submunitions designed to penetrate 250mm of armour while at the same time breaking into more than 2,000 fragments which act as an anti-personnel weapon. The weapon is known to be in the stockpiles of both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Amnesty International’s research team located the BL-755 bomb in Hayran in the centre YEMAC was using to store unexploded ordnance they had collected. The bomb had malfunctioned and bomblets in five of the original seven sections had neither dispersed nor detonated as designed. Around a dozen bomblets were still inside in the crushed remains of the bomb casing and YEMAC had stored another 70 or so bomblets in the same facility indicating that 80 or so bomblets, more than half, failed to detonate.
This is the first confirmed use of UK-made cluster munitions since the adoption in 2008 of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which the UK played a role in drafting and negotiating.
Other types recently identified by Amnesty International include a Brazilian-manufactured Avibras ASTROS cluster munition rocket motor and US-manufactured CBU-105 Sensor-Fuzed Weapons with BLU-108/B canisters. A US Department of Defense contract worth $641 million for the manufacture of 1,300 CBU-105 sensor fused weapons for Saudi Arabia was agreed in August 2013. The weapon is also known to be in the stockpile of the United Arab Emirates.
The BLU-108, manufactured by Textron Defense Systems, is an air-delivered submunition, with four further smart "Skeet" submunitions. The BLU-108 is released from the bomb that carries it, and a parachute deploys to slow its descent. It then fires the four rapidly-rotating skeets, which using multi-mode optical sensors can identify a variety of targets. When the skeet identifies a target signature it detonates, propelling an explosively formed penetrator to penetrate armour and produce incendiary effects, as well as a fragmentation ring to damage soft targets and personnel.
The presence of dud skeet submunitions in Yemen which have failed to deploy, detonate or self-destruct contradicts claims by the US Security Defense Cooperation Agency that these munitions do not result in more than 1% unexploded ordnance “across the range of intended operational environments.” The US government prohibits the sale or transfer of cluster munitions with greater than a 1% fail rate. The US appears to be failing to meet even this standard, which falls short of the complete ban on the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions that the 100 states parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions have committed to.
“Without a concerted effort to stop the Saudi Arabia-led Coalition from using cluster munitions, and urgent international support for clearance, these cluster bombs and other explosive remnants of war will leave a deadly legacy in Yemen for years to come, posing a threat to civilian lives and wreaking havoc on the local economy,” said Lama Fakih.
Saudi Arabia and other coalition members should facilitate clearance of areas contaminated by unexploded ordnance. States in a position to do so should provide all possible technical, financial, material, and other assistance to facilitate the marking and clearance, removal or destruction of cluster bomb submunitions, duds and other explosive remnants of war. They should also provide victim assistance, including for the medical and psychological care and rehabilitation of victims and their families, as well as risk education.
Members of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition should immediately provide the UN with precise locations of cluster munition attacks, including maps, data with the exact dates of strikes, specific types and quantities of the weapons used, in order to facilitate clearance and risk-education activities and to reduce the potential for further civilian casualties.
States supplying arms to the Saudi Arabia-led coalition and the coalition members should immediately stop transferring and using cluster munitions, and should decommission and dispose of their remaining stocks without further delay.
Amnesty International and others have been calling on all states for years to immediately halt the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions and to join the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM).
The other countries who have produced cluster munitions identified as being used by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in the Yemen conflict – the USA and Brazil – have not yet joined the CCM. Neither has Yemen – although Yemeni diplomats indicated on 19 May at a UN conference that they were strongly considering acceding to the Convention, given the level of cluster munition contamination in the country.
Neither Saudi Arabia nor any of its coalition members have joined the CCM. However, under customary international humanitarian law, coalition members must not use inherently indiscriminate weapons, which invariably pose a threat to civilians.
Since February 2016, Amnesty International has urged all states to ensure that no party to the conflict in Yemen is supplied – either directly or indirectly – with weapons, munitions, military equipment or technology that would be used in the conflict until they stop serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law and support independent, impartial investigations into allegations of violations by all parties.
Kuwait City, Kuwait | AFP | Sunday 5/22/2016 - 07:13 GMT
The Yemeni government delegation is to rejoin UN-brokered peace talks in Kuwait with Shiite rebels who control the capital, ending a four-day boycott, the UN special envoy said on Sunday.
The hard-won negotiations on ending a conflict that has killed more than 6,400 people and driven 2.8 million from their homes since March last year have been interrupted by repeated boycotts by the government delegation since they opened on April 21.
UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said that President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi had agreed to end the latest boycott after mediation by UN chief Ban Ki-moon and Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.
Hadi's supporters had baulked at discussing rebel proposals for a unity government that they fear will sideline him and undermine his claim to international legitimacy.
They insist that the talks should focus instead on enforcing an April 2015 UN Security Council resolution demanding the rebels' withdrawal from the capital and other territories they have overran since 2014.
Foreign Minister Abdulmalek al-Mikhlafi said on Twitter that the government had agreed to give the peace talks a "last chance."
"We have fixed all the references. This is a first step on the path for a real peace that leads to implementing Resolution 2216 beginning with withdrawals, surrender of weapons and the restoration of state institutions," he said.
Despite a 14-month-old Saudi-led military intervention in support of Hadi's government, the rebels and their allies still control many of Yemen's most populous regions, including the central and northern highlands and the Red Sea coast.
© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse
Doha, Qatar, 21 May 2016
Your Highness Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar,
Your Excellency Ms. Ameenah Gurib, President of Mauritius,
Your Excellency Mr. Mahamadou Issoufou, President of the Republic of Niger,
Your Excellency Mr. Mogens Lykketoft, President of the United Nations General Assembly,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I thank the State of Qatar for generously hosting the Doha Forum.
We gather at a time of fragility and vulnerability.
Our world faces multiple armed conflicts, rising extremism and the widening impacts of climate change.
One hundred and thirty million people need life-saving humanitarian assistance.
War and persecution have forced 60 million people from their homes -- the most since the Second World War.
Here in the Middle East and Gulf region, millions of people are suffering the consequences of conflict, terrorism, inequality, regional rivalries and severe deficits in basic freedoms.
The scale of these challenges demands a more concerted global response.
We can draw encouragement from recent landmark agreements.
The Paris Agreement on climate change can help avert catastrophe while pointing the way toward an era of low-carbon growth.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is an integrated and inspiring blueprint for peace and prosperity on a healthy planet.
The new framework takes aim at many of the drivers of instability and anger around the world.
It calls on us to fight corruption and joblessness, and to ensure that natural resources are managed for the many, not the few. It highlights the importance of building accountable institutions capable of providing services and justice for all.
The framework is also infused with human rights. Its core commitment is to leave no one behind.
The goals, particularly Goal 16 on building inclusive societies, are a breakthrough in underscoring the inextricable links between development and peace.
Our challenge is to bring the Agenda to life in meaningful ways.
As we set our sights on the year 2030, we must do far more to end conflict and suffering in 2016.
We are striving to build a culture of prevention by stressing the peaceful resolution of disputes, and by focusing early on violations of human rights before they escalate.
On one of the major prevention challenges of our times – violent extremism – we must avoid short-sighted policies and heavy-handed approaches that only exacerbate the problem and give terrorists their best recruitment tools.
The United Nations is also strengthening peace operations to deploy quickly, with the right mandate at the right time, and with the necessary capabilities to make a difference.
And we are placing new emphasis on sustaining peace by addressing root causes, promoting reconciliation, and moving towards recovery, reconstruction and development.
It is crucial to bring more voices to the table. Women have a vital role to play, not just as recipients of protection but as agents of peace. Young people are seen too often today as potential threats; we must empower them to realize their potential as peacebuilders, as recently emphasized by the Security Council in its landmark resolution 2250 on youth, peace and security.
And civil society must have space to play its crucial role. I am profoundly concerned about new laws and attacks that infringe on the rights of NGOs, human rights defenders and the media. Here in this region and elsewhere, excessively broad definitions of security end up undermining security.
Finally, we must do all we can to end the conflicts and violence that have set this region aflame, from Syria and Yemen to Libya, Iraq and Palestine.
On Yemen, the talks in Kuwait are critical for peace. I strongly urge the leaders of all parties to show the flexibility and wisdom needed to reach an agreement that will allow Yemenis to heal the wounds of this war and look ahead to a better future. I thank the Emir and the government of Kuwait for hosting these talks, and for their outstanding support to my Special Envoy.
As those efforts continue, the Saudi-led Coalition and all combatants must do more to avoid civilian casualties. The already appalling humanitarian crisis is worsening, with more than 13 million people now in need of immediate, life-saving assistance, and more than 7 million severely food insecure. Yet in the face of these numbers, our funding appeal remains woefully underfunded. Where is the solidarity?
In Syria, the Government continues to drop barrel bombs on civilians, and place unconscionable and unlawful obstacles in the way of humanitarian aid. A few days ago, even a consignment of baby food to a desperately deprived besieged area was deliberately blocked by the Government.
My Special Envoy continues to work intently with the parties towards meaningful talks. We need a full and immediate cessation of hostilities. Just as important, we need to begin discussions on the transition. I fear that without such a political horizon, a further escalation is all too likely.
Yet again, I call on all regional and international actors to use their influence on the parties, and to persuade them to negotiate in good faith on transitional arrangements. Is there anything more urgent than resolving this nightmare?
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Tomorrow, I will leave Doha for Istanbul, where thousands of people will gather for the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit.
Humanitarian needs keep rising, outpacing the global response. Disasters are striking with greater frequency and force.
The Summit is a chance for all of us -- Governments, humanitarians and business leaders -- to agree on ways to better protect people, ensure access to those in need and build resilience.
Vulnerable people across the world are rightly asking, “where is the humanity?”
The World Humanitarian Summit is our opportunity to show we are listening – and acting to uphold it.
Together, we can move from aspiration to action, and set the world on a path towards the theme of this forum: stability and prosperity for all.