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Daily Noon Briefing Highlights: Cameroon - Niger - Yemen

10 Aug 2020

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Mile 16, Buea, South West Cameroon, May 2019. Credit: OCHA/Giles Clarke

Daily Noon Briefing Highlights – 10 August 2020

Cameroon: UN Humanitarian Coordinator condemns aid worker killing

The Humanitarian Coordinator a.i. in Cameroon, Siti Batoul Oussein, has in a statement issued over the weekend strongly condemned the killing of an aid worker in the North West region.

The staff member of the Community Initiative for Sustainable Development (COMINSUD) – an implementing partner for several UN agencies – was on 7 August kidnapped from his home and later killed by unidentified armed individuals.

This killing is the latest in a series of attacks, violent extortion and harassment against humanitarians in the South West and North West regions.

It comes barely a month after the killing of a community health worker in the South West region.

“Violence against humanitarian workers is not acceptable under any circumstances. It jeopardizes access to much needed assistance for people affected by the crisis in the South West and North West regions.” said Mrs. Oussein.

She called for all armed actors to refrain from any attacks or obstruction of aid workers and humanitarian agencies on whose assistance many lives depend.

 

Niger: Aid worker killings

In Niger, eight people, including seven aid workers, were killed in a brutal armed attack on 9 August in Kouré, 60 kilometres east of the capital, Niamey.

Six staff of the French international NGO ACTED-Niger and two Nigerians (a driver and a guide) died in the attack. The ACTED staff had recently arrived in Niamey and had just completed their 14-day COVID-19 quarantine.

The group was visiting a giraffe reserve when they were shot, and their car set ablaze.

Expressing condolences to the families of the victims, the Government of Niger condemned the attack and said it is working to find the perpetrators of the heinous killing to bring them to justice.

The UN conveys its deepest sympathy to the families, colleagues and friends of the victims, and pays tribute to the memory of the victims.

The UN condemns these senseless killings with the utmost vigour and thanks the authorities of Niger for their response to this tragic incident.

 

Yemen: SAFER oil tanker

The tragedy in Beirut last week highlights the urgency of resolving the ongoing threat posed by the SAFER oil tanker off the coast of Yemen. This aging vessel is carrying more than 1 million barrels of oil and has had almost no maintenance since 2015.

Two months ago, seawater began leaking into the engine room, which could have destabilized and sunk the entire vessel, potentially releasing all the oil into the sea. A temporary fix was applied, but it is unclear how long this might last.

A major spill would be catastrophic for the environment and would destroy the livelihoods of coastal communities in Yemen. Most of the oil would likely wash up on Yemen’s west coast in areas controlled by the Houthi authorities.

A spill would also likely force Hudaydah port to close for weeks or months, which would cripple Yemen’s largest port. Because Yemen imports nearly all its food and everything else, this would have devastating consequences for millions of people – including communities located far from the coast.

On 14 July, the UN submitted an official request to the Houthi authorities to undertake an assessment and initial repair mission to the SAFER. The UN is in contact with the authorities on this and urges them to expedite the necessary procedures so this work can begin.

The main purpose of the mission will be to conduct a technical assessment and undertake whatever initial repairs might be feasible. Because the SAFER has gone so long without maintenance, its current status is not clear. The technical assessment will provide the scientific evidence we need to determine how best to resolve this challenge in the safest way possible. The UN is eager to work with the Houthi authorities and all relevant stakeholders to achieve this.