UN to cut food aid to Yemen amid funding shortfall
The United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) said it has been “forced” to cut aid to Yemen due to a lack of funds and warned there will be a surge in hunger in the war-torn country in the coming
Several years of Saudi war on Yemen have created what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, Al Jazeera reported.
The violence is projected to kill 377,000 people by the end of the year, according to the UN Development Programme.
Meanwhile, four million people have been internally displaced during the fighting, with WFP targeting 11.1 million for food assistance in November of 2021. In September, the agency warned that 16 million Yemenis were “marching towards starvation”.
“From January, eight million will receive a reduced food ration, while five million at immediate risk of slipping into famine conditions will remain on a full ration,” the UN agency said in a statement on Wednesday.
According to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), about 2.3 million children under the age of five currently suffer from acute malnutrition in Yemen, with 400,000 expected to suffer from life-threatening severe malnutrition in the coming months.
“WFP food stocks in Yemen are running dangerously low,” WFP Regional Director Corinne Fleischer said in a statement.
“Every time we reduce the amount of food, we know that more people who are already hungry and food insecure will join the ranks of the millions who are starving. But desperate times call for desperate measures.”
WFP said that it needs $813 million to continue to help the most vulnerable in Yemen through May and $1.97 billion during 2022 to continue to deliver food assistance to families on the brink of
In recent months, the violence has centred around Marib, the Saudi-led coalition’s last major stronghold in the Houthi-controlled north, which has displaced tens of thousands more residents.
On Monday, officials said aid flights had been halted following Saudi-backed air attacks on the international airport in the Yemeni capital.
Russian FM says security talks with U.S. agreed for start of next year
Russia will enter talks with U.S. negotiators on security guarantees it wants from the West at the start of next year, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday, amid concerns over a Russian military build-up near Ukraine’s border.
Ukraine and the West have accused Russia of considering a new attack on Ukraine as early as next month. Russia denies that, despite moving tens of thousands of troops to staging posts closer to Ukraine, Reuters
President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that Russia had no room to retreat in its standoff with the United States over what Moscow views as Washington’s unacceptable military aid for Ukraine and would be forced into a tough response unless the West dropped its “aggressive line”.
He said that Moscow wants legally-binding security guarantees that certain offensive weapons will not be deployed to countries that neighbour Russia and for NATO to halt its eastwards expansion.
Russia has handed over a list of detailed security guarantees to Washington that it wants from the West.
“It is agreed that at the very start of next year bilateral contact between American negotiators and ours will become the first round (of talks),” Lavrov said.
He said Russia had presented American officials with a document concerning U.S.-Russia relations and that foreign policy aides to Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden had agreed to further work.
Moscow wanted to discuss a second document it had presented, a draft agreement between Russia and NATO countries, after the first meeting, but also in January, Lavrov said.
NATO on Tuesday said it would seek meaningful discussions with Moscow early next year to address tensions.
The NATO-Russia Council (NRC) was created in 2002 to facilitate consultation between the Western military alliance and Moscow, but relations are strained and it last convened in July 2019.
New analysis links Israeli spyware to Khashoggi’s murder: Washington Post
New forensic analysis has revealed that operatives of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) installed the Israeli Pegasus spyware on the mobile phone of the wife of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi just months before his torture killing.
The analysis, conducted by the Canada-based Citizen Lab privacy and security research laboratory, further exposed that executives of Pegasus’ maker – NSO group – lied when they claimed last summer that Khashoggi and his associates, including his Emirati wife, Hanan Elatr, were not targeted by the spyware in a surveillance operation on behalf of the UAE government, Press TV wrote, citing a Washington Post report.
According to the Tuesday report, a forensic investigation of two Android cellphones owned by Elatr discovered that an unknown individual used one of the phones to visit a website that uploaded the Israeli spyware onto the phone. This occurred after UAE security agents at Dubai’s airport confiscated the phone from Elatr just months prior to Khashoggi’s murder in Saudi Arabia’s Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. Further analysis by the Citizen Lab also suggested the website was controlled by NSO group on behalf of “a customer” in the UAE.
Phone numbers belonging to Elatr and to Khashoggi’s Turkish fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, were also found in a list of 50,000 numbers in a data leak that revealed potential targets of the Pegasus spyware, the report adds.
The list also contained numbers belonging to hundreds of more government officials – including French and South African presidents, the Pakistani prime minister and several Africa-based US Embassy officials – along with a total of 180 journalists that included major US and European news outlets.
The reported data leak was part of a larger investigation by a coalition of news outlets around the world. The investigation, branded The Pegasus Project, exposed a massive targeting of journalists, human rights activists and politicians.
According to the daily, the international probe found that authoritarian governments have used Pegasus against journalists, human rights defenders, diplomats, lawyers and pro-democracy opposition leaders, with new revelations continuing to roll out. France found traces of the spyware on the phones of five of its ministers. After initial denials, Hungary also admitted using the spyware.
The deep technical sophistication of surveillance exploits developed by the Israeli spyware company was recently revealed in a blog post from Project Zero, a Google security research group. The post offered details of a “zero-click” exploit for iMessage in which a target’s cellphone would be compromised simply by sending them an SMS message containing a link, without the need for the target to open or read the message.
NSO’s operations have long been shrouded in secrecy. In the face of growing evidence of the company’s willingness to assist repressive and authoritarian regimes around the world, including the surveillance of some American officials, however, the US government has begun to take action against the Israeli company.
NSO was recently placed on a blacklist by the US Department of Commerce, forbidding US companies from providing NSO with goods or services. Even a group of US lawmakers has urged the imposition of stricter sanctions on NSO Group and other spyware firms, which would freeze bank accounts and bar their employees from traveling to the US.
Libya electoral board suggests January 24 for presidential election
Libya’s electoral board has suggested that this week’s presidential election should be postponed by a month to January 24.
The statement by the High National Electoral Commission (HNEC) on Wednesday came after a parliamentary committee tasked with overseeing the electoral process said it was “impossible” to hold the first round of presidential polls on Friday, as originally scheduled, Al Jazeera reported.
“After consulting the technical, judicial and security reports, we inform you of the impossibility of holding the elections on the date of December 24, 2021, provided for by the electoral law,” Al-Hadi al-Saghir, chairman of the committee, wrote on Wednesday to the head of parliament.
Earlier this week, the head of the HNEC had ordered the dissolution of the electoral committees nationwide, without naming a final list of candidates, in a move that effectively postponed the election.
While a delay has been widely expected amid a series of challenges, there have been disagreements between the HNEC and the parliamentary committee over who is responsible to make such an announcement. And in its latest statement, the HNEC was “very clear” in saying that it is the parliament “that has to set the new date in motion”.
The widely expected delay after months of arduous preparations and international negotiations is a big blow to efforts to end 10 years of chaos in the country in the wake of a 2011 revolt that removed longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi.
The election is part of a United Nations-backed plan aimed at restoring stability but without any clear agreement on rules, and with bitter disputes over the eligibility of the main candidates, the process has stalled.
On Tuesday, the UN’s mission in the country, known as UNSMIL, voiced concern about the security situation in Tripoli, after rival armed groups deployed in the south of the capital, closing roads using sandbags.
“The current mobilization of forces affiliated with different groups creates tensions and increases the risk of clashes that could spiral into conflict,” the mission said in a statement, adding that all disagreements regarding political matters should be resolved through dialogue.
Schools and the University of Tripoli closed on Tuesday as a precaution but there were no gun battles, residents said. In the afternoon, roads in Tripoli that had been closed were reopened and fewer gunmen were seen on the streets, according to reports.
Armed groups had also deployed in Tripoli’s streets last week after the unity government dismissed Abdulbasit Marwan, a senior military official backed by several of the capital’s powerful armed groups.
Meanwhile early on Tuesday, two leading presidential candidates from western Libya, ex-interior minister Fathi Bashagha and former deputy prime minister Ahmed Maiteeq, met Khalifa Haftar in Benghazi. Haftar is an eastern-based renegade military commander who is also seeking the presidency.
The content of their talks was not disclosed, but an adviser to Bashagha told AFP the reason for the visit was to “break down obstacles … and show that it is possible to unite”.
One dead, dozens feared missing after migrants boat sinks off Greek island
Greece’s coastguard said one person died and dozens are feared missing after a boat sank off the coast of the island of Folegandros.
The body of the unidentified man was recovered during an ongoing search and rescue operation. The coastguard said 12 people, all believed to be from Iraq, had been rescued and transported to the nearby island of Santorini, The Associated Press reported.
Most survivors said there were originally 32 people on the boat, but one told authorities there were about 50.
The coastguard said four coastguard vessels, two helicopters from the navy and air force, a military transport plane, five passing ships and three private vessels were participating in the search and rescue operation.
“The survivors made it on to a dinghy that was tethered to the boat. Only two of them were wearing lifejackets,” a coastguard spokesperson, Nikos Kokkalas, told the state-run ERT television. “We always presume the worst-case scenario, in this case that 50 people were on the boat.”
The coastguard said the operation began on Tuesday night after it received information that a vessel carrying refugees and migrants had suffered engine failure and later begun taking on water south of Folegandros.
Greece is one of the most popular routes into the EU for people fleeing conflict and poverty in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Most attempt to cross in dinghies from the Turkish shore to the nearby eastern Aegean Greek islands.
But with increased patrols and allegations of summary deportations back to Turkey for those who arrive, many have been attempting lengthier routes on larger vessels. Folegandros, one of the southern islands in the Cyclades, is not along a usual route for migrant smugglers.
Other vessels have bypassed the Greek islands and headed directly from the Turkish coast to Italy.
At least one person was killed and dozens were missing, feared dead, after a landslide dislodged waste at a jade mine in northern Myanmar and swept them into a lake early on Wednesday, Reuters reported.