Second wave of refugees will sweep Europe, says UN food chief

Second wave of refugees will sweep Europe, says UN food chief
Europe may face a second wave of migration as the situation in refugee camps in Africa and the Middle East is only getting worse, the head of the UN World Food Programme said. He added there is a clear link between hunger and migration.

Living conditions, mostly food distribution, in refugee camps in crisis-affected regions had deteriorated dramatically before the European migrant crisis struck in 2015, David Beasley, the executive director of the World Food Programme (WFP) told German newspaper Die Zeit.

“We paid a heavy price for this mistake and I’m afraid we’re about to make it once again,” Beasley believes. According to the UN food chief, while many asylum seekers wanted to stay in their home region, the lack of food has driven them away. “If they don’t have enough food, they will leave. And many of them would go to Europe,” Beasley said.

While the UN has been seemingly making progress in fighting world hunger over the last 10 years, the number of people suffering hunger worldwide has now dramatically increased again, Beasley said, adding that the food crisis is caused mainly by wars and climate change. Yemen is threatened by famine because Saudi Arabia is blocking the country’s ports, preventing aid deliveries, Beasley said, urging Gulf countries not to stand aside but instead join the food aid program for crisis-stricken regions.

A WFP report from March says that some 108 million people across the globe faced “crisis food insecurity or worse,”a dramatic increase from 2015 when the figure was 80 million. The document says that major food crises were fueled by “conflict, record-high food prices and abnormal weather patterns.”

The number of asylum seekers in the EU during the second quarter of 2017 reached 149,000, according to statistical data from Eurostat. The applications mainly came from Syria, Nigeria and Afghanistan. Germany, Italy, France, Greece and the UK account for almost 80 percent of all first-time applicants in the union, the data shows.

Courtesy: DW

US lawmakers slam ‘unauthorized’ military aid for Saudi-led coalition in Yemen

US lawmakers slam ‘unauthorized’ military aid for Saudi-led coalition in Yemen
The US House of Representatives has passed a resolution which states Washington’s support for the Saudi-led coalition in the Yemen war is unauthorized. However, the resolution does not call for an immediate halt to US assistance.

In a non-binding move, the lawmakers publicly acknowledged that the US military support for Saudi Arabia and its allies in Yemen, which involves sharing information and refueling warplanes, goes beyond what Congress has approved. It further explains that US forces are authorized to combat only Al-Qaeda or its affiliates as well as other terrorist groups in Yemen – but not the Houthi rebels that are targeted by the Saudis.

Congress “has not enacted specific legislation authorizing the use of military force against parties participating in the Yemeni civil war that are not otherwise subject to the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force [AUMF] or the 2003 AUMF in Iraq,” the resolution says. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), who co-sponsored the document with Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), also drew attention to the fact that what the US military is doing goes beyond its authorized capacity.

“What our military is not authorized to do is assist the Saudi Arabian regime in fighting the Houthis,” Khanna said, as cited by Politico. He also claimed that Washington’s aid to Saudi Arabia runs counter to its own stated goals in the region.

“In many cases, the Saudis have aligned with Al-Qaeda to fight the Houthis, undermining our very counterterrorism operations,” he said. The document itself also states that “the conflict between the Saudi-led Arab Coalition and the Houthi… alliance is counterproductive to ongoing efforts by the United States to pursue Al-Qaeda and its associated forces.”

Khanna, also a member of the House Armed Services Committee, has previously accused Washington of contributing to Saudi airstrikes “that kill civilians” and “are creating a security vacuum that allows groups like ISIS [Islamic State/IS, also ISIL] to gain a foothold.”

The resolution adopted 366-30 on Monday is, however, largely symbolic and does not call for an immediate stop to US military aid to the Saudi-led coalition. Khanna particularly criticized the US interventions in the Middle East by saying that they had not “made the United States or the world any safer.” In a Twitter post he also called on Washington to embrace “a foreign policy of restraint and diplomacy.”

Our interventionism in the Middle East has not made the United States or the world any safer. Instead of calling for regime change, we need a foreign policy of restraint and diplomacy.

Rep. Eliot Engel, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called on lawmakers to “sunset the 2001 AUMF,” adding that the document had never been intended to be “a blank check,” Politico reports. The 2001 AUMF authorized the US president to use military force against “nations, organizations, or persons” that are considered to be in any way linked to the 9/11 attacks, to prevent further terrorist assaults on the country.

The authorization has been used numerous times to justify military action against Afghanistan, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Georgia, Iraq, Kenya, Libya, Philippines, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, according to the Congressional Research Service.

There were calls to halt US support for the Gulf countries fighting in Yemen even before the Monday resolution. Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) said in June that it was “astounding what’s going on in Yemen]” with US weapons, during a debate on American arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Representative Ted Lieu, a Democrat from California and a long-time advocate for the suspension of US cooperation with the Saudi-led coalition, also said earlier this year that Washington should not increase its involvement in the Yemeni civil war “without any explanation” by the president.

Since March 2015, the UN has recorded a total of 13,504 civilian casualties in Yemen, including 4,971 killed and 8,533 injured. Yemen’s conflict has also brought one of the region’s poorest countries to the brink of famine.

Courtesy: RT

Houthis threaten to sink Saudi battleships & oil tankers unless Yemen blockade is lifted

Houthis threaten to sink Saudi battleships & oil tankers unless Yemen blockade is lifted
Yemen’s Houthi rebel government has threatened to sink Saudi coalition warships and oil tankers unless Riyadh lifts its blockade which threatens the lives of millions in the war-torn country.

“Battleships and oil tankers of the aggressor and its movements will not be immune from the fire of Yemeni naval forces if directed by the senior leadership,” Al Masirah news cited the country’s navy and coast guard as saying Sunday.

Earlier, Brig. Gen. Sharaf Ghalib Luqman, a military spokesman for the Houthi rebels, said that “systematic crimes of aggression” and the “closure of ports” compels the Houthi forces “to target all sources of funding” of the aggressor. He added the country is ready to “respond to the escalation of the Saudi-US aggression promptly.”

The threat of a military response to the ongoing blockade was made after Houthi leader Maj. Gen. Yousef al-Madani met leaders of the naval, coastal defense and coast guard forces Saturday. That same day, Houthi leader Abdel-Malek al-Houthi posted a message on Facebook assuring that “international navigation will remain safe as it was before,” making clear that “only those who attack our country” will be targeted.

The Saudi-led military coalition announced last week that it was temporarily shutting all of Yemen’s land border crossings as well as its air and sea ports in response to a ballistic missile that targeted Riyadh on November 4. The kingdom accused Houthis of firing an Iran-supplied rocket at the Saudi capital, and responded with bombing raids on the Yemeni capital, Sana’a. Iran has denied allegations that it supplies weapons to the Houthis, but concedes it backs the rebels’ cause.

Following the November 6 closure of all ports of entry into Yemen, a range of UN bodies expressed concern over the fate of civilians in the country, where nearly 7 million people are starving while others depend on humanitarian assistance amidst a deadly cholera epidemic.

“The recent closure of the Yemen’s airspace, sea and land ports has worsened the already shrinking space for the lifesaving humanitarian work. It is blocking the delivery of vital humanitarian assistance to children in desperate need in Yemen. And it is making a catastrophic situation for children far worse,” Meritxell Relano, the UNICEF Representative in Yemen said Friday.

Also describing the situation in Yemen as “catastrophic,” a spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) urged the Saudis to lift the blockade, as up to 90 percent of Yemen’s daily needs are served through humanitarian aid.

“That lifeline has to be kept open and it is absolutely essential that the operation of the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) be allowed to continue unhindered,” Jens Laerke emphasized.

READ MORE: British arms sales to Saudi Arabia jump 500% as coalition seals off Yemen borders

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric warned that the Saudi-led blockade “has had a tremendously negative impact on a situation that is already catastrophic.”

Unless Saudi Arabia lifts the blockade, “it will be the largest famine the world has seen for many decades, with millions of victims,” Mark Lowcock, the UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, warned earlier this week.

The UN Security Council demanded that the Saudi-led coalition keep Yemen’s air and sea ports open to aid deliveries into the country following a session discussing Riyadh’s draconian measures.

The Saudi-led coalition has been waging a military campaign against Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen since March 2015. According to the latest UN figures, the three-year-old conflict has so far claimed the lives of over 5,000 civilians, in addition to nearly 9,000 people that have been injured.

Courtesy: RT

Saudi Arabia agrees to lift blockade on Yemen as children face starvation & cholera

As children in war-torn Yemen continue to face severe malnutrition and a deadly cholera outbreak, Saudi Arabia has agreed to reopen air and sea ports following a week-long blockade. RT has met with children affected by the dire situation.

Riyadh’s decision, announced earlier on Monday, comes four days after the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said that nearly 400,000 children in Yemen are “at risk of death from severe acute malnutrition.” Children are also facing a deadly cholera outbreak, with 50 percent of the cases belonging to those under the age of 15.

The UN and over 20 aid groups warned the blockade – imposed on November 6 – could make things worse in the war-torn country. “The humanitarian situation in Yemen is extremely fragile and any disruption in the pipeline of critical supplies such as food, fuel and medicines has the potential to bring millions of people closer to starvation and death,” the organizations wrote last week.

RT Arabic spoke with two young brothers who have felt the severe impact of the ongoing civil war and the blockade. Forced to quit school, the children now rummage through trash bins looking for tin cans which can bring their family a little bit of money. “We are taking care of our family…we collect cans to buy food and pay the rent, and to feed all our family,” the older brother said.

However, the blockade will now be lifted. “The first step in this process will be taken within 24 hours and involves reopening all the ports in areas controlled by [Yemen’s internationally recognized government, which the coalition backs],” the Saudi mission at the UN said on Monday, as quoted by AP.

The ports referred to by the mission are located in Aden, Mocha and Mukalla. The mission says it has asked the UN to provide a team of experts to determine ways to prevent weapons from being smuggled in.

Yet, Abdu Ilahi al-Harazi from the Special Hospitals Union said that civilians should never be deprived of necessities simply because Riyadh is worried about weapons coming into the country. “Food and medicine are not weapons, they’re things that have nothing to do with weapons. They shouldn’t be manipulated,”he said.

The chair of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, Massoud Shadjareh, echoed that sentiment. “There is no logical reason that we couldn’t…take medicine and deal with the issue of cholera. There is no logical reason that we couldn’t…give food and support to those who are starving…the only thing that is holding us back is the fact that the Saudis and their allies, with the help and support of the United States and the West, are putting very effective…blockade which no food, no medicine gets through,” he said.

The Saudi-led coalition, which is backed by the US, launched an aerial campaign against Shiite Houthi rebels in March 2015, and later began a ground operation. The coalition is allied to Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who fled to Saudi Arabia when the Houthis took power in Yemen. According to the latest UN figures, the conflict has so far led to the deaths of over 5,000 civilians. More than 8,500 people have been injured in the ongoing fighting.

Courtesy: RT

Explained Why Saudi Arabia Opened Another Proxy War Against Iran – in Lebanon

‘The Saudis appear to have decided that the best way to confront Iran is to start in Lebanon,’ a European diplomat said

Reuters Nov 09, 2017 6:49 PM

A poster depicting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is seen in Tripoli, northern Lebanon, November 7, 2017 REUTERS/Omar Ibrahim
Analysis Prime Minister Hariri’s resignation threatens Iranian grip on Lebanon
The Saudi purge: The real reason behind Mohammed bin Salman’s unprecedented crackdown
Amid tensions with Saudis, U.S. says Iran regime must be held accountable
Saudi Arabia has opened a new front in its regional proxy war with Iran, threatening Tehran’s powerful ally Hezbollah and its home country Lebanon to try to regain the upper hand.
With Iranian power winning out in Iraq and Syria, and Riyadh bogged down in a war with Iran-allied groups in Yemen, the new Saudi approach could bring lasting political and economic turmoil to a country where Tehran had appeared ascendant
The resignation on Saturday of the Saudi-allied Lebanese prime minister Saad al-Hariri, announced from Riyadh and blamed on Iran and Hezbollah, is seen by many as the first step in an unprecedented Saudi intervention in Lebanese politics.
“The Saudis appear to have decided that the best way to confront Iran is to start in Lebanon,” a European diplomat said.

Riyadh is blaming Hezbollah for the resignation of Lebanon’s preeminent Sunni politician, accusing it of “hijacking” Lebanese politics. But Saudi Arabia is also widening blame to Lebanon as a whole, saying it too has declared war on the Kingdom.

A Saudi minister has made the near impossible demand that Lebanese act against a group that is a major part of Lebanon’s political fabric and far more powerful than the weak state, with a guerrilla army that out guns the national military.
Coinciding with a major anti-corruption purge of top Saudis, Hariri’s shock announcement has given rise to suggestions from Hezbollah and others that his Saudi business interests had embroiled him in the probe and he was forced to resigning.
Saudi Arabia and Hariri’s allies deny that, and assertions that Hariri is under house arrest. They say his hand was forced by Hezbollah interventions in Arab countries in service of Iran.
Power vaccuum
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir said Hezbollah had been “calling the shots” in the Hariri government, which included two Hezbollah ministers and was formed last year in a political deal that made Michel Aoun, a Hezbollah ally, head of state.
Hezbollah and its allies will struggle to form a government without Hariri or his blessing, leaving Lebanon in a protracted crisis that could eventually stir Sunni-Shi’ite tensions, though there is no sign of this yet as all sides urge calm.
Announcing his resignation, Hariri cited an assassination plot against him and slammed Iran and Hezbollah for sowing strife and trying to “kidnap” Lebanon away from the Arab world. The declaration came as a surprise even to Hariri’s aides.
It is not clear what comes next: Saudi-backed efforts to weaken Hezbollah in Lebanon failed badly a decade ago, ending with a bout of Sunni-Shi’ite fighting on the streets of Beirut that only underlined Hezbollah’s military dominance.
The regional struggle moved elsewhere in recent years, notably neighbouring Syria where years of Saudi investment in rebel groups fighting President Bashar al-Assad failed to withstand direct military intervention by Iran and Hezbollah.
In Iraq, Tehran-backed militias and Iranian commanders have often seemed as powerful as the U.S.-backed Iraqi military, most recently in an operation to retake Kirkuk from Kurdish forces.
So emboldened was Iran that top Iranian official Ali Akbar Velayati trumpeted his regional alliance’s success from Beirut last Friday, declaring victories in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. His statement to the media after a meeting with Hariri was seen as a major provocation to regional Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia.
Hariri left for Saudi Arabia immediately afterwards, cancelling previously scheduled engagements and catching even his closest advisors off guard the next day with a declaration first broadcast by Saudi-owned media.
The regional standoff flared in the Gulf hours later, with Iran-allied groups firing a ballistic missile at Riyadh from Yemen. Saudi Arabia says it was launched by Hezbollah.
Hezbollah has not responded to the accusation.
Neither Hezbollah nor the Lebanese government responded on Tuesday to the Saudi accusation, voiced by Gulf affairs minister Thamer al-Sabhan, a top aide to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, that both Lebanon and Hezbollah had declared war.

“The Lebanese government will be dealt with as a government declaring war on Saudi Arabia, and all Lebanese must realise these dangers and work to resolve the issues before we reach the point of no return,” he said in an interview with Al-Arabiya TV.
Crown Prince Mohammed told Reuters last month the war in Yemen would continue to prevent the Iran-allied Houthi movement from becoming another Hezbollah at Saudi’s border.
Sanctions call
Hezbollah was established by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in 1982 to fight Israeli troops in Lebanon. Its last major war with Israel was in 2006, since when Hezbollah has grown stronger.
While Sabhan vowed that Hezbollah would be forced back into “its caves” in southern Lebanon, any Saudi military action in Lebanon – such as air strikes – would come as a major surprise.
Political paralysis and tension is however a big threat to an already stagnant economy, and could derail next year’s parliamentary elections – Lebanon’s first since 2009.
Policymakers have scrambled to calm concern over the financial stability of the heavily indebted state. They say the Lebanese pound – pegged against the dollar at the same rate for 20 years – is stable.
Hariri was spearheading efforts to garner international aid to help Lebanon deal with the strain of hosting 1.5 million Syrian refugees, or a quarter of the population.
Leaders on all sides say there should be no further escalation. Both Hezbollah and Hariri’s Future Movement have worked to contain Sunni-Shi’ite tensions during the war in neighbouring Syria.
Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has called for calm and patience in the face of Hariri’s resignation. Okab Sakr, a member of Hariri’s Future Movement, noted that protests in solidarity with Hariri had been cancelled to avoid trouble.
Sabhan, the Saudi minister, has called for “real sanctions” and alliances “to find a fundamental solution to this cancerous disease”, saying Hezbollah should be disarmed and kept out of government.
Hariri, who was thrust into politics by the 2005 assassination of his father, Rafik al-Hariri, led years of political struggle with Hezbollah in Lebanon. But his Saudi-backed “March 14” coalition failed to make any progress towards Hezbollah’s disarmament as demanded by U.N. resolutions.
Echoing the Saudi position, the United States has also taken new measures targeting Hezbollah in recent weeks, as President Donald Trump takes a tougher stance towards Iran.
It has offered a bounty for two Hezbollah officials, and the House of Representatives has backed new sanctions targeting entities found to support it.

Reuters
read more: https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/1.821574

Courtesy: Reuters

Yemen facing ‘largest famine in decades’ if blockade isn’t lifted, UN aid chief says

Mass famine in Yemen would affect millions of lives unless the Saudi-led coalition lifts its blockade of the country, the UN’s aid chief has warned. The Security Council has demanded aid be allowed to enter Yemen.

Watch video01:18

United Nations warns of catastrophic famine in Yemen

The Saudi-led military coalition’s blockade of Yemen could lead to “the largest famine the world has seen for many decades with millions of victims,” Mark Lowcock, the UN undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, warned on Wednesday.

Lowcock’s warning came as the UN Security Council met behind closed doors to discuss the most recent escalation in the Yemen conflict after Saudi Arabia closed off all land, sea and air borders to the Arabian Peninsula country.

The blockade has also grounded all UN humanitarian flights into Yemen and prevented ships carrying urgent supplies, such as medicine and food, from docking.

Watch video00:26

UN humanitarian chief reports Yemen spiraling towards collapse

The Saudi-led coalition has claimed that the blockade’s intention was to stop the flow of arms from Iran going to the Yemeni Houthi rebels the Saudis have been fighting since 2015. The decision to block off Yemen’s borders followed the interception of a missile, allegedly fired by Houthi rebels, toward the Saudi capital, Riyadh, on Saturday.

UN Security Council demands aid be allowed into Yemen

Following Wednesday’s meeting, the UN Security Council demanded that Saudi Arabia open all borders into Yemen and allow humanitarian aid deliveries into the country.

Italian Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, whose country holds the council presidency, told reporters that all council members, including Saudi Arabia’s US and British allies, expressed concern about the “dire humanitarian situation in Yemen” and stressed “the importance of keeping all of Yemen’s ports and airports functioning.”

Lowcock also told reporters that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had held talks with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir on Wednesday, in which the UN head called for the immediate resumption of humanitarian access to Yemen.

Aid bodies stopped and turned away at the border 

Relief organizations reported this week that they had been barred from delivering aid into Yemen. The International Committee of the Red Cross said its shipment of chlorine tablets, which combat the spread of cholera, was stopped at Yemen’s northern border on Tuesday.

20 million people in  are reliant on humanitarian aid – that’s not getting in. Our call for action: http://ow.ly/WpB630gpVJx 

Meanwhile, the French medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) reported on Wednesday that it had been denied clearance for its flights into Yemen for the past three days.

“The broader impact of this blockade on the men, women and children of Yemen is already evident and it puts hundreds of thousands of lives at risk,” MSF’s head of mission in Yemen, Justin Armstrong, said.

Yemen is almost completely dependent on imports of food, fuel and medicine. According to UN aid agencies, the blockade has seen a surge in the price of basic goods in the Arab world’s poorest country.

The UN estimates that some 17 million Yemenis are in urgent need of food, 7 million of whom are facing famine. The outbreak and spread of cholera in the country has reportedly infected nearly 900,000 and cost some 2,000 lives.

Courtesy: DW

Watch video00:52

#ISpeakforButhaina: Picture of girl in Yemen goes viral

dm/sms (AP, Reuters, dpa, AFP)

Saudi Arabia says Lebanon has declared war against it

The Saudi kingdom fears that Iran-backed Hezbollah is seeking to consolidate power in Lebanon. Saudi Arabia and Iran have also traded accusations over Saturday’s attempted missile strike on Riyadh by Yemeni rebels.

Saudi-Arabien Riad König Salman und Saad Hariri Ex-Premierminister Libanon (picture-alliance/AA/Bandar Algaloud)

The resignation on Saturday of Lebanon’s Saudi-allied Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri has stepped up Saudi Arabia and Iran’s regional power struggle.

With Iran-backed Shiite militant group Hezbollah apparently seeking to gain from Lebanon’s political instability, Saudi Arabia responded on Monday by claiming that the new Lebanese powers that be had declared war on the oil-rich kingdom.

Read more: Is Saudi Arabia waging war on its Shiite minority?

In an interview with Saudi state television, Riyadh’s Gulf affairs minister, Thamer al-Sabhan, said the Lebanese government would “be dealt with as a government declaring war on Saudi Arabia.”

Hezbollah’s acts of “aggression,” Sabhan added, “were considered acts of a declaration of war against Saudi Arabia by Lebanon and by the Lebanese Party of the Devil.”

Watch video26:00

Saudi’s Prince Turki al-Faisal | Conflict Zone

Political crisis

The alleged declaration comes after Hariri, a Sunni ally of Riyadh who holds both Saudi and Lebanese citizenship, claimed that there had been an assassination plot against him in Lebanon, forcing him to flee to Saudi Arabia, from where he announced his resignation in a broadcast.

While the exact motive behind his resignation remained unclear, the move toppled Lebanon’s factious coalition government, which also included Hezbollah, and plunged the country into a political crisis.

Read more: Saudi Arabia ‘imposed’ Lebanon PM’s resignation, says Hezbollah chief

It also brought Lebanon back to the forefront of Iran and Saudi Arabia’s regional rivalry, which has played out in Syria, Iraq, Bahrain and Yemen.

Iran-backed rebels launch missile at Saudi capital

Riyadh and Tehran’s strife was once again laid bare on Monday, as the two powers traded fierce accusations over last weekend’s attempted missile attack on the Saudi capital, which is believed to have been fired by Yemen’s Houthi rebel group.

The Saudi-led military coalition, which is combating the Iran-backed rebel faction in Yemen, said that it reserved the “right to respond” after Saudi forces on Saturday intercepted a ballistic near Riyadh’s international airport.

The Saudi-led military coalition called the attempted strike a “blatant military aggression by the Iranian regime which may amount to an act of war,” while Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir warned on Twitter that “Iranian interventions in the region are detrimental to the security of neighboring countries and affect international peace and security.”

Iran laments Saudi ‘aggression’

Tehran in turn responded by accusing its regional rival of “war crimes, regional bullying, destabilizing behavior.”

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghassemi was quoted of saying that Saturday’s missile attack was an “an independent action in response to (Saudi) aggression,” and that Iran had nothing to do with it.

Read more: Hunger and disease hit Yemen hard amid a ‘forgotten conflict’

Saudi Arabia has been accused of not doing enough to prevent civilian deaths in its war against the Houthi rebel group in Yemen.

Since Saudi’s military intervention in March 2015, more than 10,000 people have been killed.

dm/kl (Reuters, dpa, AP)

Courtesy: DW