UN warns that famine could overwhelm country in next three months, with 13 million people at risk of starvation.
Yemen could be facing the worst famine in 100 years if airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition are not halted, the UN has warned.
If war continues, famine could engulf the country in the next three months, with 12 to 13 million civilians at risk of starvation, according to Lise Grande, the agency’s humanitarian coordinator for Yemen.
She told the BBC: “I think many of us felt as we went into the 21st century that it was unthinkable that we could see a famine like we saw in Ethiopia, that we saw in Bengal, that we saw in parts of the Soviet Union – that was just unacceptable.
“Many of us had the confidence that would never happen again and yet the reality is that in Yemen that is precisely what we are looking at.”
Yemen has been in the grip of a bloody civil war for three years after Houthi rebels, backed by Iran, seized much of the country, including the capital, Sana’a. The Saudi-led coalition has been fighting the rebels since 2015 in support of the internationally recognised government.
Thousands of civilians have been caught in the middle, trapped by minefields and barrages of mortars and airstrikes. The resulting humanitarian catastrophe has seen at least 10,000 people killed and millions displaced.
Speaking on Sunday evening, Grande said: “There’s no question we should be ashamed, and we should, every day that we wake up, renew our commitment to do everything possible to help the people that are suffering and end the conflict.”
Her comments came after the UN and humanitarian workers condemned an airstrike in which the Saudi-led coalition targeted Yemen’s Shia rebels, killing at least 15 people near the port city of Hodeidah.
Conservative lawmakers and commentators spent Sunday downplaying the dire warnings in a much-anticipated climate assessment — released Friday by the Trump administration — going as far to accuse the scientists who worked on the report of perpetuating climate “alarmism” in order to keep their jobs.
The scientists who helped draft the fourth National Climate Assessment, according to former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), were attracted to the money that comes with producing a report that highlights the terrible dangers of climate change.
“The reality is that a lot of these scientists are driven by the money that they receive … from people who support their agenda,” Santorum said Sunday in a panel discussion on CNN.
The former Pennsylvania senator and Republican presidential candidate complained that the report was written by hundreds of scientists in the federal bureaucracy and not Trump appointees.
CNN host Dana Bash shot back: “Meaning they’re nonpolitical.”
But Santorum, who once criticized the Pope for making climate change a moral issue, returned to his argument that job security is driving scientists to conclude that humans are the primary cause of worsening climate change. “If there was no climate change, we’d have a lot of scientists looking for work,” he said Sunday. TOP ARTICLES2/5READ MORE
The number of migrants losing their lives attempting to cross the United States-Mexico border in 2017 remained high in spite of substantial decrease in the number of arrests along the frontier, the United Nations migration agency reported
|CRIMSON TAZVINZWA, AIWA! NO!|In a news release, the UN International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that US Border Patrol figures show 341,084 migrants were apprehended on the country’s southwestern border in 2017 as against 611,689 in 2016 – a drop of about 44 per cent.
However, 2017 recorded 412 migrant deaths, compared to 398 the preceding year.
“The increase in deaths is especially concerning, as the available data indicate that far fewer migrants entered the US via its border with Mexico in the last year,” said Frank Laczko, Director of IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre.
According to the UN agency, prolonged exposure to the extreme environments in the border region, where temperatures often top 104 degree Fahrenheit (40 degree Celsius), combined with the difficulty of bringing assistance those in need in remote areas have repeatedly been cited as leading causes of death.
Texas, where 191 migrant deaths were recorded in the last year, is a particular area of concern and the 2017 total represents a 26 per cent increase over the 151 fatalities recorded in the state in 2016, added IOM in the news release.
At the same time, though data on migrant fatalities on the US-Mexico border are more accessible than in many other regions of the world, they remain incomplete and the number of deaths reported by the US Border Patrol, includes only those which agents deal with directly.
“This means that federally reported figures could seriously underestimate the real number of deaths,” said Julia Black, data collection coordinator for IOM’s Missing Migrants Project.
IOM also reported that the “vast majority” of migrant border deaths recorded by the Project occur on the US side of the border – though one reason for this may be that coroners, medical examiners, and sheriffs in US border counties are more likely to regularly report data on migrant deaths to the agency’s staff.
Reports of deaths south of the border often surface locally from radio stations and small newspapers, or from social media, the UN agency added, noting that the information on fatalities could come weeks, even months after they occur.
Since the start of the Missing Migrants Project, IOM has recorded 1,468 deaths on the US-Mexico border, including 14 deaths in January 2018.
|AIWA! NO!|As challenges to Facebook mount from consumer organizations, politicians and journalists, the company’s leadership remains convinced that its recent crises are primarily public relations problems, according to people at the company.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive officer, and Sheryl Sandberg, the company’s chief operating officer, believe Facebook’s negative image is a public relations problem that stems from a bungled press strategy and sensational media coverage, not a structural or philosophical shortcoming that requires a wholesale course correction, six Facebook sources familiar with their thinking told NBC News. The sources asked not be identified because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
As a result, some inside Facebook believe the company’s leaders are likely to respond to the current controversy in the near-term by revamping their communications strategy, not by making drastic changes to personnel or the platform.
In recent days, Zuckerberg and Sandberg have both publicly blamed the company’s communications team for the decision to hire a conservative public relations firm that included what one former employee called an “in-house fake news shop.” Both leaders also publicly claimed ignorance about the decision, even as Sandberg privately told staff that she “fully accepted responsibility.”
In a company-wide meeting on Friday, Zuckerberg blamed the media for fueling “bad morale” and called “bulls—” on The New York Times report, which insinuated that the company had tried to cover up its problems with Russia-based disinformation efforts. He also said he would not hesitate to fire employees who leaked information to the media.
Internally, the leadership’s decision to blame the media and the press shop has driven a wedge between them and members of the communications team who feel as if they’ve been thrown under the bus, the sources said.
“It’s total arrogance,” one Facebook employee said. “Everyone is pissed.”
On Sunday night, a Facebook spokesperson told NBC News that the leadership “takes full responsibility for the issues we’re facing. They’ve been vocal about that internally and externally. No matter where people sit at Facebook, everyone wants to move forward — and that’s our plan.”
In recent months, Zuckerberg has taken a war-like attitude toward dealing with Facebook’s problems and with its PR strategy, according to a Wall Street Journal report. Zuckerberg, 34, believes his company didn’t move quickly enough to handle its problems in the past and has “expressed frustration at how the company managed the waves of criticism it faced this year.”
But Facebook’s critics worry that the leadership still has yet to internalize the full scale of the problem.
“It’s important for Facebook to recognize that this isn’t a public relations problem,” Sen. Mark Warner told The New York Times on Sunday. “It’s a fundamental challenge for the platform and their business model.”
|AIWA! NO!|Above all else, we must welcome any positive news coming from Yemen. A potential humanitarian tragedy, greater than the one that the Yemenis have been experiencing for many years, must be avoided. The Yemenis have suffered enough since 2011, when the Muslim Brotherhood thought that it could highjack the popular uprising against the existing regime and use it to seize power.
The Brotherhood failed to take two things into consideration. The first was the fact that the regime of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was assassinated by the Houthis about a year ago, was not an easy morsel to swallow, and the second was that the Houthis and behind them Iran were waiting in the wings for the right opportunity to lay their claws on Sana’a. And that’s exactly what happened on September 21, 2014.
Today, the international community, led by the United States and Britain, is pressing for a near truce in Hodeidah. Then, we have the Houthis announcing that they will stop firing rockets and sending drones “towards Saudi Arabia and the UAE.”
Can we therefore say we have the right conditions for a political solution in Yemen?
Logic and recent experience say that halting the attack on the strategic port of Hodeidah cannot be compared to halting the missile attacks on Saudi Arabia. Let’s not even talk about comparing it to halting missile attacks on the UAE because it is doubtful that these missiles can reach that far in the first place.
What is certain is that there is a need for the Houthis to come to their senses. There is also a need to restructure the camp of the legitimate government so that it can be up to the importance of the event and able to deal with any political solution that may be submitted by the UN Secretary-General’s envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, who unfortunately does not seem to know much about Yemen or about the ambitions of the Houthis and of those who hide behind them.
Experience has shown that it is hopeless to bet on the Houthis coming to their senses. All one has to do to come to that conclusion is examine the speeches given by their leader, Abdelmalik al-Houthi, since the takeover of Sana’a. They contain nothing substantial and are just manoeuvres to buy time. The Houthis have nothing to offer Yemenis besides illusions, empty slogans and pompous rhetoric that cannot buy medicine, feed the hungry or build a school or a hospital. The frightening thing is that the Houthis are completely unconcerned with the precarious situation of the average Yemeni citizen.
For all practical purposes, however, there is no escaping from including the Houthis in any political process aimed at reaching some sort of solution at some stage. But the Houthis’ actions suggest they want to impose a formula that will eventually lead to the establishment of a state of their own with Sana’a as its capital.
How can we possibly allow the people of Sana’a and their centuries-old cultural heritage to fall to the mercy of marauding cave dwellers that know only how to chant “Death to America, Death to Israel, Damn the Jews, Victory for Islam”?
The UN envoy for Yemen will be making a major mistake if he continues to believe that a political solution can be found with the existing balance of power. By saying this, we’re not suggesting resuming fighting in Hodeidah; on the contrary, it is an attempt to avoid further fighting. At the end of the day, if the Houthis are allowed to stay in Hodeidah, it will be the shortest way to reach a political impasse.
To put it differently, if the negotiations scheduled to take place in Stockholm are limited to the Houthis and the “legitimate” government, there will be no positive results. It is imperative that the vicious circle in Yemen be broken. This can only be achieved by removing the Houthis from Hodeidah and by restructuring the “legitimacy” camp by expanding its base. It does not make sense not to include all the forces involved in confronting the Houthis in the “legitimacy” camp.
If these two conditions are not met, the Houthis will continue to exercise their favourite hobby: buying time in order to create new conditions on the ground. It was easy for them, for example, to assassinate Saleh because they really don’t care about the lives and future of Yemeni youth. For them, a young Yemeni is just a martyrdom project. He doesn’t need to go to school or university. All he needs is to learn how to chant hollow slogans and fight for the victory of Iran’s expansionist project in the region.
Is this what the UN envoy and the United States and Britain behind him really want to happen in Yemen?
Perhaps he really wants to find a balanced political solution that will revive hope in Yemen. Again, the point is not to eliminate the Houthis. In fact, no one can eliminate anyone in Yemen. What is more desirable than ever is finding a way to include the largest number of political forces in the north, south and centre in any national dialogue or negotiations for a political solution.
The only constant in Yemen is that there can be no return to the old formula — that of one Yemen controlled by Sana’a, or the centre as it was called. The old Yemen we’re familiar with is now gone. Perhaps the right formula for a new Yemen is that of a federation or confederation. But there is no hope of reaching such a formula if the vicious circle in not broken.
More than three million displaced in Yemen – joint UN agency report
|CRIMSON TAZVINZWA, AIWA! NO!|SAUDI ARABIA faces international condemnation and censure for the apparent murder of its citizen at a Turkish Consulate in Istanbul in October; and its ongoing war in Yemen.
The United Kingdom and the US are working towards a joint resolution, and consequently a joint communique ending four-year conflict that has claimed millions of lives and made even more millions of peopled internally displaced.
Yemeni families are on the brink of famine. On top of forced displacement, hunger now looms across Yemen, leaving the lives of millions of children, women, and men at risk. UNHCR is working hard to provide displaced families with vital support like food, shelter and healthcare in their time of greatest need. But we cannot do it without you.
This is the world’s largest humanitarian crisis and it deserves critical attention. Your donation could help to provide displaced families with the essentials they need to survive: shelter, blankets, medical care and emergency assistance. UNHCR can make your gift reach the people most in need – fast. We are on the ground within 72 hours from an emergency helping families forced to flee. It is our job to protect and safeguard refugees’ rights and help rebuild their lives.
More than three million displaced in Yemen – joint UN agency report
A joint report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has found that the conflict in Yemen has resulted in the displacement of some 3,154,572 people, of which 2,205,102 remain displaced across the country and some 949,470 have attempted to return home.
“The crisis is forcing more and more people to leave their homes in search of safety,” Ita Schuette, UNHCR’s Deputy Representative in Yemen said in a news release on Friday, announcing the report.
The news release added that due to the escalating conflict and worsening humanitarian conditions, displacement across the country has seen an increase of about seven per cent since April, with 152,009 individuals fleeing from violence during this period.
The report, prepared by the Task Force on Population Movement, a technical working group led by the two agencies as part of the humanitarian response to the crisis in Yemen, also said that a significant number of those displaced are attempting to return home, a 24 per cent increase of some 184,491 individuals. However, it cautioned that movements remained fluid and correlated to moments of lulls or perceived improvements in the conflict.
“IDP returnees are considered to remain within the displacement cycle as long as they have not achieved a sustainable reintegration and their needs remain high, as is also the case for the non-displaced host community,” said Laurent De Boeck, IOM Chief of Mission to Yemen.
|Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY|AIWA! NO!|LONDON – The global law-enforcement group Interpol elected South Korea’s Kim Jong-yang as its new president Wednesday. Kim’s election averts a crisis in the international police body because it thwarts efforts by Russia to lead Interpol.
Kim was chosen by a vote among Interpol’s 194 member countries – every country in the world with the exception of North Korea – during a general assembly in Dubai. Kim, 57, will serve a two-year term.
Russian national Alexander Prokopchuck, a senior general who for the past 12 years has been the head of Moscow’s national Interpol bureau, part of Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, was widely tipped to win the post. Prokopchuck is close to the Kremlin and has been accused of routinely abusing Interpol’s Red Notice system – global arrest warrants – to target critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The prospect of a Russian sitting atop the international police organization raised red flags in Washington and among critics of the Kremlin who believed Putin would have further tried to aggressively influence Interpol to go after his political opponents.
“I can’t imagine a more inappropriate person” for Interpol, Bill Browder, an American businessman and prominent Putin foe, told reporters in London on Tuesday, speaking of Prokopchuck. “And I can’t imagine a more inappropriate country.”
Browder is responsible for pushing successful congressional passage of the Magnitsky Act, which imposes sanctions against government officials who commit human-rights abuses. The Magnitsky Act was used recently to sanction 17 Saudi nationals accused of murdering the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. It has also been used for sanctions against Russia for its actions supporting separatists in Ukraine.
“It was his (Putin’s) government that organized a terrorist attack in the U.K. using chemical weapons in Salisbury. It was his government that shot down (commercial airliner) MH17 (over Ukraine), killing 298 innocent individuals. It was his government that cheated and hacked in elections in the United States and Europe,” Browder said.
“To put his representative in charge of the most important international crime-fighting organization (would be) like putting the mafia in charge.”
More: Meet one of Putin’s top enemies. He’s a guy from Chicago
Ahead of the vote, U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss, Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Chris Coons, D-Del. and Marco Rubio, R-Fla. issued a statement in which they described Russia’s candidacy as “akin to putting a fox in charge of the henhouse.”
“Russia routinely abuses Interpol for the purpose of settling scores and harassing political opponents, dissidents and journalists,” the senators said.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “strongly” endorsed the South Korean candidate.
Kim’s elevation to the presidency comes in the wake of the disappearance of Meng Hongwei, a Chinese national who ran Lyon, France-based Interpol before vanishing in China in mysterious circumstances two months ago. Interpol said Hongwei resigned but his wife fears he is dead after being detained as part of a corruption crackdown.
“Our world is now facing unprecedented changes which present huge challenges to public security and safety,” Kim said Wednesday after his election. “To overcome them, we need a clear vision: we need to build a bridge to the future.”