Saudi help in mine clearance allows Yemenis to return home

17/01/20

  • Mine clearance teams have defused thousands of landmines laid by the Iranian-backed Houthi militia.

AL-MUKALLA: A large number of Yemeni civilians have returned to their houses in several Red Sea areas in the province of Taiz after the Saudi project for landmine clearance, known as Masam, declared them free from Houthi-laid landmines.

The Saudi-funded project said in a statement on Thursday that its mine clearance teams have defused thousands of landmines laid by the Iranian-backed Houthi militia from 10 areas in Mocha, Mouza and Wazyia districts and is working on securing the remaining heavily mined parts of the districts, calling upon displaced residents to return to their houses.

Col. Othman Al-Jahwari, an expert with the project, said that they had retrieved more than 10,000 landmines, improvised explosive devices and unexploded ordnance from different areas in the three districts and cleared almost 70 percent of 17, 000-square- meter area in Taiz. Al-Jahwari said residents have begun going back to their homes and farmlands after hearing the project’s announcement.

In the same province, six children were injured on Wednesday when a landmine planted by Houthis exploded as they were playing in Al Sofi region in Wazyia district.

Houthis have planted landmines extensively since early 2015 when Yemeni government forces, backed by massive air and logistic military support from the Saudi-led coalition, seized the momentum and regained control of areas in Taiz, Sana’a, Jawf and Hodeida.

When government forces marched along the country’s western coast towards the city of Hodeida in 2018, Houthis planted thousands of landmines on farms, roads and in houses to stop the advance. Local military commanders say Houthi landmines slowed the military offensive but did not stop it, and loyalists are currently seizing control of parts of Hodeida.

In April 2019, Human Right Watch said Houthi-laid landmines had killed hundreds of civilians, obstructed their movement and prevented lifeline humanitarian aid from reaching people. Recent reports by local organizations that document civilian deaths showed that more than 500 civilians have been killed by Houthi landmines in the province of Taiz.

‘Exceptional mission’

Col. Abdul Basit Al-Baher, Yemen army spokesperson in Taiz, told Arab News that the Saudi project is carrying out an “exceptional mission” that cleared a large swathe of Yemeni areas from landmines. The number of civilian deaths would have been higher if the project had not stepped in, according to the army spokeperson.

“This is an exceptional humanitarian mission that has saved many lives in Yemen.

Their mission is as important or even more important than humanitarian aid,” he said. “Before the arrival of the project, people used to deactivate landmines by improvised means, which causes deaths.”

Al-Baher believed that Yemen would remain suffering from Houthi mines for the next three decades. “This is like a plague that sweeps over Yemeni lands. Almost every day we are alerted about explosions caused by Houthi landmines in Taiz. They have killed humans and animals,” he said.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi-led committee strikes deal between government and separatists in Yemen

Time: 14 January, 2020

Yemeni Southern Transitional Council member and former Aden Governor Nasser Al-Khabji, left, and Yemen’s deputy Prime Minister Salem Al-Khanbashi sign a power-sharing deal in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. (File/Bandar Aljaloud/Saudi Royal Palace via AP)
  • Griffiths hailed the steps taken so far under the Riyadh Agreement
  • The PM will return to Aden, while military units will retreat to positions they held before

AL-MUKALLA: A Saudi-led military committee tasked with enforcing the arrangements of the Riyadh Agreement made a significant breakthrough on Monday, convincing Yemeni military commanders to reposition their forces in the south of Yemen, officials said on Tuesday.
The committee visited military bases in Aden, Lahi and Abyan, meeting with commanders from both the government and the separatists to discuss accelerating the redeployment of forces.
A senior government official — who spoke to Arab News on condition of anonymity — said that two government military brigades that took part in fighting against forces loyal to the separatist Southern Transitional Council last year would be deployed in the Thubab area near the Red Sea and Abyan’s Lawder district, while separatists agreed to withdraw some forces from Aden.
“Under the arrangements approved yesterday, the Presidential Protection Forces will enter Aden and will be assigned to protect the presidential palace,” the official said. “Al Zamik’s brigade will go to Thubab and Al Subaihi’s will be deployed in Lawder,” he added, referring to Brig. Lou’i Al-Zamiki, the commander of the 3rd Presidential Protection Forces Brigade, and brigadier Abdullah Al-Subaihi, the commander of the 39th Armored Brigade.
The two brigades will reinforce government forces battling Houthis in Baydha, Hodeida and Taiz. The separatist Southern Transitional Council, the official said, will send back soldiers that came to Aden in August to their bases in Lahj’s Radfan district.
In November, Saudi Arabia brokered a deal between the Yemeni government and the Southern Transitional Council aimed at defusing tensions between the two parties following heavy clashes in Aden, Abyan and Shabwa last year.
Under the deal, the prime minister will return to Aden, while military units will retreat to the positions they held before August — handing over heavy weapons to a team from the Saudi-led coalition. Those weapons will be distributed to military units battling the Iran-backed Houthis. Yemen’s president will then appoint new governors and security chiefs for Aden, Lahj and Dhale, and name a new coalition government. The official said the next step would be to discuss the situation in the province of Shabwa.
“They will start implementing arrangements for Aden and Abyan. All heavy weapons — including tanks, anti-aircraft guns and artillery — will be collected in one place,” the official said, adding that pro-government Abu Misha’al Al Zamiki, Abyan’s chief of security, will return to the town of Zinjibar to replace the separatist’s own security measures in the near future.
Speaking to Arab News on Monday night about the joint military committee’s visit to the Southern Transitional Council’s military base, Nizar Haytham, a spokesperson for the council, said. “This is a positive step. We hope it will be followed by the government’s withdrawal from Shabwa and Abyan.” Haytham also said that the council had swapped eight prisoners with the government in exchange for 35 separatists taken prisoner in August.
At a meeting with Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi on Tuesday, the United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths hailed the steps taken so far under the Riyadh Agreement and expressed his hope that more will follow, leading to a comprehensive peace deal. Hadi reiterated his commitment to the UN-led peace process in Yemen.

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Saudi experts start work on Yemeni airport upgrade

Time: November 28, 2019 

The SDRPY team, headed by Ahmed Al-Medkhali, met with specialists to assess and study the extent of work required to upgrade the airport. (SPA)
  • Technical team visits Aden airport to study the extent of work required

ADEN: A team of Saudi technical experts on Tuesday visited Aden International Airport as part of a redevelopment initiative for the site.

The Saudi Development and Reconstruction Program for Yemen (SDRPY) team, headed by Ahmed Al-Medkhali, met with specialists to assess and study the extent of work required to upgrade the airport.

Al-Medkhali said an evaluation of the necessary technical and structural needs of the airport would include assessing buildings, facilities and the runway, in addition to inspecting lighting and runway equipment, existing navigation devices, and the arrival and departure lounges.

“We are here to assess the airport’s emergency requirements and reactivate it. We’re working to evaluate all requirements and needs, to study them, and recommend the necessary work to address those needs, as part of the work of the SDRPY to support the transport, airports and ports sector,” added Al-Medkhali.

HIGHLIGHT

The SDRPY helps to implement Yemeni airport safety plans by providing fully equipped ambulances, fire trucks fitted with the latest technology, in addition to ensuring compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) airport safety and firefighting requirements.

The SDRPY recently completed the revamp of Al-Ghaida airport in Yemen’s Al-Mahra governorate and conducted successful air navigation systems tests and flight-testing procedures there in cooperation with internationally accredited companies.

The program helps to implement Yemeni airport safety plans by providing fully equipped ambulances and fire trucks fitted with the latest technology, in addition to ensuring compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) airport safety and firefighting requirements.

Separately, on Tuesday, SDRPY officials signed a number of contracts relating to a development project at the Baqah border post linking the Saada governorate to the Kingdom. The program was also behind the delivery of generators to the director of the post, Khalid Al-Omaisi, with the aim of improving its operational capabilities.

The SDRPY, supervised by Mohammed bin Saeed Al-Jaber, the Saudi ambassador to Yemen, not only gives financial aid for development in Yemen but also provides educational training and resources.

The program was established almost a year ago to work alongside the Yemeni government to devise and implement development projects in all areas affecting the daily lives of the Yemeni people, to facilitate recovery, create job opportunities, provide basic services and support the economy.

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Riyadh Agreement between Yemen sides draws international praise

Time: November 07, 2019

Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan (C-L) walking alongside Yemen’s President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi (C) and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (C-R) as they attend a peace-signing ceremony between the Saudi-backed Yemeni government and the southern separatists in the capital Riyadh. (AFP)
  • The US ambassador commended King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman for their role in bringing the parties together

DUBAI: World leaders and diplomats welcomed the signing of the Riyadh Agreement between the Yemeni government and the Southern Transitional Council (STC) that was signed earlier this week.

The new arrangement – signed in Saudi Arabia – calls for an equal number of ministries between each of the STC and supporters of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

The negotiations began in August in the Saudi city of Jeddah after infighting threatened the unity of a coalition comprising STC forces and Hadi loyalists, which for years had been battling the Iran-allied Houthi militias.

“We are hopeful that the parties will use this critical opportunity to work together to end the conflict and to achieve the peace and stability that Yemen’s people deserve,” US Ambassador John Abizaid to Saudi Arabia said in a statement on Thursday.

The US ambassador commended King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman for their role in bringing the parties together “to restore unity in shared efforts to end Yemen’s long and destructive conflict.”

British Ambassador Michael Aron also praised the Mohammad bin Salman, calling the signing of the agreement a “significant achievement secured by the efforts of the Crown Prince.”

“It is also a big step towards a comprehensive political settlement in Yemen. We welcome it and urge both parties to implement it in the timescales stipulated,” the UK envoy added.

Yemen’s UN envoy Martin Griffiths also described the deal as an “important step” for collective efforts to advance a peaceful settlement to Yemen’s conflict.

“Listening to southern stakeholders is important to the political efforts to achieve peace in the country,” he said in an online statement.

“I am grateful to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for mediating successfully this agreement and for their strenuous diplomatic efforts,” Griffiths said.

Saudi Deputy Defence Minister, Prince Khalid Bin Salman, praised the efforts of the warring sides to end their dispute.

“They have put the Yemeni people’s interests over any other consideration,” Prince Khaled tweeted.

Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammad Al-Nahyan praised Saudi Arabia’s role in “in bringing about the Riyadh Agreement,”

“We sincerely wish that peace and prosperity prevail and that Yemenis enjoy security, stability and development,” the crown prince said.

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UN relief coordinator thanks Saudi Arabia for supporting humanitarian efforts in Yemen

Time: October 17, 2019  

Workers prepare to unload a fuel shipment from an oil tanker at the port of Hodeidah, Yemen

RIYADH: The Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock thanked Saudi Arabia for supporting UN efforts to address the humanitarian situation in Yemen on Thursday.

UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths also spoke at the UN Security Council meeting and  thanked Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for his efforts in supporting the Yemen peace talks

Griffiths added that the UN team’s efforts in Hodeidah has also helped reduce violence.

Meanwhile, Kuwait’s permanent representative at the UN ambassador Mansour Al-Otaibi said that his country was ready to host a new round of negotiations between Yemeni sides.

Kuwait previously hosted talks on Yemen in 2016 but they broke down after the Houthis rejected a UN proposal aimed at ending the war in the country.

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UN official thanks Saudi Arabia for $500m aid for Yemen

28/09/19

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock. (AP)
  • Saudi Arabia has also supports all meaningful and constructive dialogue that supports peace efforts and adopts peaceful solutions in Yemen

NEW YORK: The under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Mark Lowcock, thanked Saudi Arabia for $500 million in funding to the UN for the 2019 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Friday.
Lowcock said the grant will be distributed by OCHA to the World Food Programme, the World Health Organization, the UN Children’s Fund, the International Organization for Migration, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN Development Programme, and the Food and Agriculture Organization.
Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, general supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief), presented Lowcock with a cheque for $500 million from Saudi Arabia.
The ceremony took place at the opening of a conference titled “Humanitarian Situation Yemen, The Way Forward,” which featured statements from a number of UN officials and diplomats, including foreign ministers from Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

HIGHLIGHT

The grant will be distributed by OCHA to the World Food Programme, the World Health Organization, the UN Children’s Fund, the International Organization for Migration, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN Development Programme, and the Food and Agriculture Organization.

Following the signing, Lowcock expressed his appreciation for the Kingdom’s generous support: “With today’s provision of funds from Saudi Arabia, the Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan will have received more than $2.3 billion, or 56 percent of its requirements for the year. This is substantial progress, and we thank all our donors for their support.”
Al-Rabeeah said that KSRelief commends the efforts of the UN organizations, which share our commitment to alleviating the suffering of the people of Yemen in accordance with international humanitarian laws and principles of neutrality. “I assure you that Saudi Arabia is keen to support all peace initiatives submitted by the UN envoys to Yemen.”
“The Kingdom has also supports all meaningful and constructive dialogue that supports peace efforts and adopts peaceful solutions in Yemen, such as the Yemen National Dialogue, the Stockholm Agreement and UN Resolution 2216 to ensure the return of peace, security and stability to Yemen, the region and the entire world,” Al-Rabeeah said.

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Saudi Arabia donates $500m in aid for Yemen

Time: September 27, 2019  

Saudi Arabia believes the Yemeni people do not deserve to live under the humanitarian crisis. (File/AFP)
  • Saudi Arabia is committed to humanitarian principles
  • The Kingdom believes the international community should take a serious stance in Yemen

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia announced the completion of their aid pledge to Yemen through a $500 million donation, Saudi state news agency SPA reported on Wednesday.

The statement was made by the Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Ibrahim bin Abdulaziz Al-Assaf during a conference on the humanitarian response in Yemen, organized at the sidelines of the 74th General Assembly session in New York.

The donation shows the Kingdom’s commitment to humanitarian principles, Al-Assaf added.

Saudi Arabia believes the Yemeni nation does not deserve the suffering it has endured at the hands of Houthis, he added.

The international community should take a serious stance against the militia because of the dire humanitarian crisis they have caused in Yemen, the minister said.

The Houthis failed to implement the numerous security council resolutions, continue to recruit children into their ranks and impede the delivery of humanitarian aid, Al-Assaf added.

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Rights group say Houthis continue to commit atrocities in Yemen

24/09/19

Al-Gharati said that the silence of the international community regarding Houthi violations and the refusal to abide by international resolutions encouraged it to continue committing crimes
GENEVA: The Yemeni Coalition for Monitoring Human Rights Violations held a symposium at the UN, where it argued that human rights violations in Yemen would deepen if Houthi terrorists continue to commit atrocities.
The symposium was held within the framework of the 42nd session of the Human Rights Council focusing on violations in Yemen.
Murad Al-Gharati, head of Tamkeen Development Foundation, said that human rights violations in Yemen would not stop as long as the Iran-backed Houthi terrorist militia controls the Yemeni capital Sanaa, and other Yemeni governorates, while having access to Yemeni state weapons.
“The Houthi militia did not recognize or investigate any of the violations committed against civilians, which confirms its deliberate targeting of civilians. It also did not hand over maps of mines, which renders them more difficult to clear out, and harms efforts to prevent the fall of new victims, or treat individuals who were already victims to mines,” he said.
Al-Gharati said that the silence of the international community regarding Houthi violations and the refusal to abide by international resolutions encouraged it to continue committing crimes, besieging cities and intercepting relief materials to use them in its war against innocent Yemenis, which meant “killing them twice, by stealing relief dedicated to the hungry and needy, and by using the revenues generated from selling it for buying bullets.”
He added that the continued violations of Houthis against women will lead to divisions in society.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi Arabia to pay $500m for Yemen aid next week, says UN aid chief

17/09/19

  • The project aims to help cut the number of deaths and injuries caused to Yemenis by hidden explosive devices

UNITED NATIONS/RIYADH: UN aid chief Mark Lowcock said Saudi Arabia will pay $500 million to the world body next week to help fund its humanitarian response in Yemen.

Lowcock said Saudi Arabia planned to pay on Sept. 25 and that the UAE had also recently made a payment of $200 million.

1,980 mines cleared in Yemen

MASAM, the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center’s (KSRelief) project for clearing mines in Yemen, cleared 1,980 mines during the second week of September.

Experts extracted two antipersonnel mines, 332 anti-tank, 1,629 unexploded ordnance and 17 explosive devices.

Since the beginning of the project, 89,761 landmines planted by the Iranian-backed Houthis have been cleared.

The project aims to help cut the number of deaths and injuries caused to Yemenis by hidden explosive devices.

The mines were randomly planted to target civilians, causing permanent injuries and chronic disabilities to children and the elderly among other victims.

The project aims to ensure current and future security for the Yemeni people and is one of several projects and initiatives provided by the Kingdom as part of its efforts to bring stability and development to the war-torn Middle Eastern country.

The KSRelief is carrying out several humanitarian projects in Yemen, which includes provision of food, health care, vocational training and education.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Houthis to blame for thousands missing in Yemen says rights group

15/09/19

Armed Yemeni men loyal to the Shiite Huthi movement shout slogans during a tribal gathering against al-Qaeda militants in the Bani al-Harith area, north of Sanaa, on August 17, 2014. Yemen faces multiple domestic problems, including ongoing insecurity and insurgencies posed by Shiite Houthi fighters, southern separatists and the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED HUWAIS (Photo by MOHAMMED HUWAIS / AFP)

The arrests of 3,544 people were carried out across Yemen between September, 2014 and December 2018
The disappeared include 64 children, 15 women and 72 elderly people
DUBAI: The Houthis are responsible for the disappearance of more than 3,500 people in four years, according to a report by the Yemeni Coalition for Monitoring Human Rights Violations.

The arrests of 3,544 people were carried out across Yemen between September, 2014 and December 2018, Saudi state news agency SPA reported.

Those who have disappeared include 64 children, 15 women and 72 elderly people.

Now the Arab coalition has called on the international community to pressure the Houthi militia to reveal the whereabouts of the disappeared.

This article was first published in Arab News

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