‘Humanity can’t continue to lose out to politics’ – UN relief chief makes plea to save Yemen

‘Humanity can’t continue to lose out to politics’ – UN relief chief makes plea to save Yemen
The top UN humanitarian official has condemned opposing forces in Yemen’s civil war and their allies for destroying its health system and fueling a major cholera outbreak. He called for an immediate end to the air and sea blockade of the country.

“This is a man-made crisis, and the sheer scale of humanitarian suffering of the Yemeni people is a direct result of the conflict and serious violations of international law,” Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien told UN Security Council in a statement on Wednesday.

The aerial bombing campaign in support of the ousted Yemeni president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, was started by the Saudi-led coalition in March 2015. The campaign against the Houthi rebels and remnants of the country’s military loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh has had little to no military effect, but has resulted in over 10,000 civilian deaths, according to UN estimates.

The military campaign is also supported by a strict air and naval blockade on Yemen, backed by the US. It has drastically worsened the humanitarian situation in the war-torn country, effectively leading to the collapse of healthcare.

“Yemen is facing critical stoppages of hospitals and a lack of doctors and nurses. The health system has essentially collapsed, with an estimated 55 per cent of facilities closed due to damage, destruction or lack of funds,” O’Brien said. “Some 30,000 health care workers have not been paid in nearly a year and no funding has been provided to keep basic infrastructure such as hospitals, water pumping and sanitation stations operating.”

The blockade, constant fighting, critical lack of basic healthcare and warring parties’ negligence towards civilian infrastructure have led to famine and a major cholera outbreak across the war-torn country.

“Seven million people, including 2.3 million malnourished (500,000 severely malnourished) children under the age of five, are on the cusp of famine, vulnerable to disease and ultimately at risk of a slow and painful death,” O’Brien said. “Nearly 16 million people do not have access to adequate water, sanitation and hygiene, and more than 320,000 suspected cholera cases have been reported in all of the country’s governorates bar one. At least 1,740 people already are known to have died from this entirely preventable disease – probably many more in the many very remote areas of Yemen we can’t reach.”

To improve the humanitarian situation in Yemen, O’Brien appealed to the UN Security Council with the same “call made last time I briefed this Council six weeks ago.” His program consists of three main points: Paying Yemeni public servants, despite the fact that “the UN and partners cannot replace State functions,” protecting Yemeni people and critical infrastructure and lifting air and naval blockade in order to “both humanitarian and commercial imports in a predictable and stable manner.”

“If only I didn’t have to repeat [the call] – there has been change since then, only for the dramatically worse,” O’Brien said.

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Merkel & ‘two-faced’ ruling party responsible for G20 violence – German foreign minister

Merkel & ‘two-faced’ ruling party responsible for G20 violence – German foreign minister
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has lashed out at Chancellor Angela Merkel over the G20 riots, accusing her fellow Christian Democratic Union (CDU) politicians of “passing the buck” by calling on Hamburg’s mayor to resign.

Following the reaction to the violent scenes in Hamburg during the July 7-8 G20 summit, Gabriel, of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) accused Merkel’s party of unfairly targeting Hamburg Mayor Olaf Scholz, also a Social Democrat.

Hamburg CDU politicians “who are calling on [Scholz] to resign… must also demand the resignation of Angela Merkel,” Gabriel said Tuesday, noting that Merkel is the one who chose Hamburg, her birthplace, as the site for the summit.

“In the election year 2017, Chancellor Angela Merkel wanted to use the G20 summit in her hometown of Hamburg to burnish her image with attractive pictures,” Gabriel told Funke newspaper group, as quoted by AFP.

He went on to accuse the “two-faced” CDU of “buck-passing,” adding that the G20 summit was a “total failure” when it came to finding answers to “humanity’s big questions.”

“This current crusade of the CDU/CSU against the SPD could poison the political culture for many years,” he said.

Some members of Merkel’s CDU party suggested Monday that Scholz should resign from his position as mayor for failing to stem the violence during the G20 summit.

The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party also joined calls for his resignation.

Scholz has said he will not resign, but has apologized for what happened in the city during the gathering of world leaders.

“Not everything happened as we had hoped,” Scholz told the Hamburg City Council on Wednesday, as quoted by Deutsche Welle. “I am happy that nobody was killed.”

The mayor admitted that it was his duty to protect the safety and well-being of Hamburg’s citizens, adding that the city’s protocols ahead of the summit were lacking.

Scholtz also admitted to underestimating disruptions caused to roads and traffic, adding that he could “perfectly understand the anger felt by those who found themselves stranded in the city for hours on end.”

The G20 riots saw protesters battling police, torching cars and looting shops. Some threw rocks from rooftops and set up burning street barricades, gaining control of one Hamburg district for several hours on Friday, before police moved in.

A total of 476 officers were injured in the violence, while more than 200 demonstrators received treatment in local hospitals. Others received on-site care from volunteer medics after inhaling tear gas and pepper spray, or being hit with police batons.

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