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الاثنين، 31 أغسطس، 2015

Saudi-led coalition air strike kills 36 Yemeni civilians: residents

Saudi-led coalition air strike kills 36 Yemeni civilians: residents

http://www.reuters.com/ Sun Aug 30, 2015

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People stand at the site of a Saudi-led air strike in Yemen's capital Sanaa August 30, 2015.
REUTERS/KHALED ABDULLAH
An air strike by warplanes from a Saudi-led coalition, which said it targeted a bomb-making factory, killed 36 civilians working at a bottling plant in the northern Yemeni province of Hajjah on Sunday, residents said.
In another air raid on the capital Sanaa, residents said four civilians were killed when a bomb hit their house near a military base in the south of the city.
The attacks were the latest in an air campaign launched in March by an alliance made up mainly of Gulf Arab states in support of the exiled government in its fight against Houthi forces allied to Iran.
"The process of recovering the bodies is finished now. The corpses of 36 workers, many of them burnt or in pieces, were pulled out after an air strike hit the plant this morning," resident Issa Ahmed told Reuters by phone from the site in Hajjah.
Coalition spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri denied the strike had hit a civilian target, saying it was a location used by the Houthis to make improvised explosive devices and to train African migrants whom they had forced to take up arms.
"We got very accurate information about this position and attacked it. It is not a bottling factory," he said.
He accused the Houthis of using African migrants, stuck in Yemen after arriving by sea before the war in the hope of crossing the Saudi border and finding work in the oil producer, as cannon fodder in dangerous border operations.
Human rights group Amnesty International said in a report this month that the coalition bombing campaign had left a "bloody trail of civilian death" which could amount to war crimes.
Air strikes killed 65 people in the frontline city of Taiz last Friday, most of them civilians, and the bombing of a milk factory in Western Yemen in July killed 65 people including 10 children.
More than 4,300 people have been killed in five months of war in Yemen while disease and suffering in the already impoverished country have spread.
Militias and army units loyal to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, currently taking refuge in Saudi Arabia, have made significant advances toward the Houthi-controlled capital in the last two months but the group remains ensconced in Yemen's north and casualties mount in nationwide combat every day.
BOMBING, ASSASSINATION
Also on Sunday, a bomb exploded near the vacated U.S. Embassy in Sanaa and unknown gunmen shot and killed a senior security official in the southern port city of Aden.
There were no immediate claims of responsibility, but Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula - the deadliest branch of the global militant organization - has been attacking the Yemeni state and plotting against Western targets for years.
A powerful bomb detonated in front of a gate on the wall surrounding the embassy around midnight on Sunday but claimed no casualties, residents and officials said.
The United States and other Western countries closed their missions in Yemen in February as the political feud between the Houthis and the Hadi government led to war.
The Houthi-run state news agency Saba quoted a security official calling it a "terrorist and criminal act".
In Aden, the local director of security, Colonel Abdul Hakim Snaidi, was shot dead outside his home by gunmen in a passing car, a security official said.
His death is the first such killing of a senior security official since the city was recaptured by pro-Hadi militiamen in July. Since then, a power vacuum has grown, with Al Qaeda militants moving into a main neighborhood last week and unknown assailants blowing up the intelligence headquarters.

(Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari; Additional reporting by Angus McDowall; Writing by Noor Chehayber; Editing by Angus MacSwan/Ruth Pitchford)

Twitter campaign to stop first Saudi women's vote

Twitter campaign to stop first Saudi women's vote


Women in Saudi Arabia
Image captionIn male-dominated Saudi Arabia women live under severe restrictions
Conservative voices have been waging an online campaign to oppose the first-ever opportunity Saudi women will have to vote in December.
But they've been matched by social media users using sarcasm and wit to promote the cause of women.
Women will for the first time be able to stand for office as well as vote in municipal polls.
However, a group of conservative Saudis recently visited the country's Grand Mufti to urge him to intervene and "prevent" women's involvement in elections.
He turned down their request and said such "enemies of life" should be ignored.
A hashtag on social media provides a platform for those opposed to women's participation in elections.#The_danger_of_electing_a_woman_in_municipal_elections has been active for three months and has been used over 7,500 times in the past month.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a Saudi tweet
Image captionA picture of the German chancellor has been widely circulated, with the words "Please say that again, I liked it"
But what started as an attempt to galvanize public opinion against the female vote was soon hijacked by pro-women's rights individuals with many using sarcasm to make their point.

'Dangerous, unacceptable'

The view that fielding women candidates "is dangerous and unacceptable," is widespread. It was expressed in a tweet by Saudi user @MohtasbTaif, which was retweeted over 110 times.
He also criticised Saudi Arabia's ratification of the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 2001. The treaty requires signatory countries to take action to end discrimination against women in all its forms.
Another Saudi user said the municipal council in its new form was "a gateway to implementing the Westernization project". "We demand that it be prevented," @ahmed5629 tweeted.
Some tweets expressed concern that women's participation in elections would threaten a woman's role in the family and ultimately "threaten the nation". User @1mosleh1 tweeted: "If you want to destroy a nation, you should destroy the family (the woman)."
Tweet of gallery of successful women
Image captionUsers have tweeted a screengrab of the Egyptian channel CBC showing successful women and a covered Saudi woman with the words: "I am shameful and deficient in intelligence and religion"
"Liberals don't care about municipal elections, all they care about is getting a woman out of her house, corrupting her and throwing her among men," said @saadhmd11 tweet which was was retweeted over 45 times.

Supportive Saudi men

It was not long before the hashtag was taken over by Saudi men and women who supported women's participation in elections.

Responding with sarcasm

In response to a tweet that claimed "a nation fails if their leader is a woman", user @Fanunx responded sarcastically: "So Britain and Germany failed, and the Arab states were victorious with their men." Her tweet was retweeted over 200 times.
Also popular was a photo (meme) of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel with the words "Please say that again, I liked it".
Several users also tweeted photos of successful women and politicians in response to those who were "degrading" women.
Overall, there appeared to be slightly more tweets supporting women's participation in the polls than ones expressing opposition.
BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

Yemen air strike kills 31 in Hajjah province

Yemen air strike kills 31 in Hajjah province


A man and his son walk past a truck hit by a Saudi-led air strike in Yemen"s northwestern province of Amran
Image captionThe Saudi-led coalition has mounted several strikes over the weekend - this truck was destroyed in a strike that reportedly killed 10 people on Friday
An air strike by the Saudi-led coalition backing pro-government forces in Yemen has killed 31 people in the northern province of Hajjah.
The strikes hit a bottling plant in the province on Sunday morning. Most of the dead were civilians.
The coalition is targeting Shia rebels known as Houthis.
The UN says almost 4,500 people have died since the coalition started its campaign in March and that there is now a humanitarian "catastrophe".
"The process of recovering the bodies is finished now. The corpses... many of them burnt or in pieces, were pulled out after an air strike hit the plant," resident Issa Ahmed told the Reuters new agency from the site of Sunday's strike in Hajjah.
Graphic showing scale of humanitarian crisis in Yemen (20 August 2015)
Also on Sunday, the head of security in the southern port city of Aden, Abdelhakim al-Sanaidi, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen.
A power vacuum has taken hold in the city since pro-government militiamen recaptured it in July. Officials say Al Qaeda militants have moved into one of the city's neighbourhoods.
Last week 65 people, most of them civilians, were killed in coalition air strikes in the city of Taiz, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said, which has also seen heavy fighting between rival forces.
The UN says that almost 4,500 people - including 1,950 civilians - have been killed since 26 March, when the Saudi-led coalition began an air campaign to defeat the Houthis and restore President Hadi.

Why is there fighting in Yemen?

Fighters loyal to Yemen's exiled government stand guard in Taiz, after they seized it from rebel fighters - 18 August 2015
  • Northern Shia Muslim rebels known as Houthis, backed by forces loyal to Yemen's ex-president, took over parts of Yemen, including Sanaa, and forced the government into exile in March
  • The rebels accused the government of corruption and of planning to marginalise their heartland within a proposed federal system
  • Forces loyal to the government, and southern militia, are fighting back, aided by air strikes led by neighbouring Saudi Arabia

Yemen crisis: How bad is the humanitarian situation?

Yemen crisis: How bad is the humanitarian situation?

UN officials have been warning for months that Yemen is facing a dire humanitarian situation. How bad has the situation become?

The country is experiencing 'a humanitarian catastrophe'.

A Yemeni man looks on as a team of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegates inspects the scene of a Saudi-led coalition air strike in Sanaa's Old City (9 August 2015)
That was the frank assessment of the UN's Humanitarian Co-ordinator, Johannes Van Der Klaauw, on 19 August.
Almost 4,500 people have been killed and a further 23,000 have been wounded since the escalation in March of the conflict between forces loyal to the exiled President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and those allied to the Houthi rebel movement.
The destruction of infrastructure and restrictions on imports imposed by a Saudi-led coalition carrying out air strikes against the rebels have led to 21 million people being deprived of life-sustaining commodities and basic services.

Yemen was already struggling.

Graphic showing scale of humanitarian crisis in Yemen (20 August 2015)
Yemen has been plagued by years of instability, poor governance, lack of rule of law and widespread poverty.
Before March, almost half of all Yemenis lived below the poverty line, two-thirds of youths were unemployed, and basic social services were on the verge of collapse.
Almost 16 million people, or 61% of the population, were in need of some form of humanitarian assistance.

Civilians are bearing the brunt of the violence.

A malnourished child lies in a bed at a hospital in Yemen's capital, Sanaa (28 July 2015)
Image captionMore than half-a-million children are severely malnourished in Yemen
Since 26 March, when the Saudi-led coalition began bombing rebel forces, at least 1,950 civilians have been killed and 4,271 wounded in air strikes and fighting on the ground, according to the UN.
Just under half of Yemen's population is under 18 and almost 400 children are among those killed. The UN children's fund (Unicef) warned on 19 August that an average of eight children were being killed or maimed every day.
report published by Amnesty International on 18 August said all parties to the conflict might have committed war crimes. It accused the Saudi-led coalition of carrying out unlawful air strikes on heavily-populated sites with no military targets nearby, and the Houthis of using heavy weapons indiscriminately.

Four out of five Yemenis now need aid.

After a recent visit, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Peter Maurer, declared: "Yemen after five months looks like Syria after five years."
The conflict has now reached 21 out of 22 of Yemen's provinces and shows no sign of ending. More than 1.4 million people have been displaced.
An estimated 12.9 million are considered food insecure, an increase of 20% in six months, according to the WFP. Six million are severely food insecure, while more than 1.2 million children are suffering from moderate acute malnutrition and half a million are severely malnourished.
Yemen usually imports more than 90% of its food. The naval embargo and fighting around the port of Aden have stopped all but a fraction of imports getting through, causing severe shortages of food and price rises. A lack of fuel, coupled with insecurity and damage to markets and roads, have also prevented supplies from being distributed.
Map showing number of internally displaced people in Yemen (20 August 2015)
A number of conflict-affected provinces have been classified by the WFP at the "emergency" level for food security - one level below "famine".
The restrictions on imports of fuel - essential for maintaining the water supply - combined with damage to pumps and sewage treatment facilities, also mean that 20.4 million people now lack access to safe drinking water, sanitation or hygiene services - an increase of 52% since March.
People have been forced to rely on untreated water supplies and unprotected wells, placing them at risk of life-threatening illnesses such as diarrhoea and cholera.
Those affected, however, will struggle to get medical help. An estimated 15.2 million people across Yemen now lack access to basic healthcare - an increase of more than 40% since March.
A large number of health facilities have been either destroyed or damaged by the fighting. Others have been forced to close down because of a lack of medicines, supplies, equipment, and fuel to run generators.
Medicines for many chronic diseases are no longer available and pregnant women may soon face dramatically increased risks of death during childbirth, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says. Outbreaks of deadly communicable diseases have also been reported.

Aid organisations are struggling to help.

A handout picture released by the World Food Programme (WFP) shows a UN aid ship docked in Yemen's port city of Aden on (21 July 2015)
Image captionA near-total blockade by the Saudi-led coalition has limited aid shipments
More than 70 humanitarian organisations have been working to help those in need. However, a lack of funding and access constraints have critically hampered their efforts.
In June, the UN launched an appeal for $1.6bn (£1bn) to allow it to assist 11.7 million people. But as of 19 August it was only 18% funded, forcing UN agencies to borrow approximately $160m (£100m) from internal funds and preventing them from scaling up operations. Saudi Arabia pledged to fully fund the UN's initial appeal for $274m in April, but no money has materialised.