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45,000 Yemenis displaced by battles around Mokha: UN

Yemen, the only country in the Arabian Peninsula which is signatory to the Refugee Convention, is also home to 278,000 refugees from nearby countries including Somalia and Ethiopia, according to the UNHCR.

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DUBAI: Fighting around Yemen’s port of Mokha has forced some 45,000 people from their homes, a UN official said Wednesday, with many facing continued uncertainty and the threat of further displacement.

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Shabia Mantoo, the Yemen spokeswoman for refugee agency UNHCR, told AFP that data compiled by her the agency and the UN Migration Agency (IOM) showed 45,000 people had been displaced in the last few weeks from Mokha and the nearby town of Dhubab.

Fighting has intensified in recent weeks in the southwest of Yemen, where forces loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi are battling to retake large parts of the country seized by Iran-backed Shiite Houthi rebels.

Loyalist troops took Mokha on February 10 and announced they aimed to push north and take the country’s main Red Sea port of Hodeida next.

Mantoo said many of those fleeing the fighting around Mokha made their way north to Ibb district and to Hodeida province.

“Eight thousand people have been displaced from Mokha and Dhubab to Hodeida alone, many of them with literally nothing but the clothes on their backs,” Mantoo said.

Two major concerns now are how to maintain access to the area and where the displaced will go if the fighting reaches Hodeida.

“The whole country is suffering from multiple displacement,” Mantoo said. “People move from one place to another, because eventually it gets just as bad.”

The UN estimates three million people have been displaced across Yemen.

The Houthi insurgents launched a deadly counter-offensive after losing control of Mokha last month but were overpowered as government troops consolidated their grip on the area, inching a few kilometers north and east.

The Houthis, allied with forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, continue to control most of Yemen’s 450 kilometer (280 mile) Red Sea coast, the capital Sanaa and much of the northern highlands.

The new figure on internally displaced persons marks a sharp rise from UNHCR data released on February 10, which reported 34,000 people displaced in the fighting since January around Mokha and Dhubab, located in the southwestern Taiz governorate.

UN mediation efforts and seven cease-fire accords have failed to end the conflict, which has left more than 7,500 dead and 40,000 people wounded.

UN humanitarian aid chief Stephen O’Brien on Monday warned the impoverished country now also faces a “serious risk of famine.”

Yemen, the only country in the Arabian Peninsula which is signatory to the Refugee Convention, is also home to 278,000 refugees from nearby countries including Somalia and Ethiopia, according to the UNHCR.

As of February 1, the agency had received just over $700,000 of the nearly $100 million needed for its operational response to the crisis this year.

Middle East

Rouhani warns Trump against walking away from n-deal

I am telling those in the White House that if they do not live up to their commitments, the Iranian government will react firmly.

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Tehran, April 24 : Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday warned his US counterpart Donald Trump that abandoning a nuclear deal that the Tehran government signed with world powers in 2015 would lead to “serious consequences”.

Speaking live on television, Rouhani said his government had kept its end of the deal and warned Trump not to tear up the agreement, which had also been signed by Russia, China, Germany, the UK and France.

“I am telling those in the White House that if they do not live up to their commitments, the Iranian government will react firmly,” Rouhani said.

“If anyone betrays the deal, they should know that they would face severe consequences,” he added.

Trump has said that unless the US’ European allies put right what he has described as “terrible flaws” in the deal by May 12, his government would re-establish economic sanctions on Iran, dealing the pact a major blow, Xinhua news agency reported.

Rouhani stressed that Iran was complying with the deal, as has been confirmed a dozen times by the International Atomic Energy Agency, whose Director General Yukiya Amano said in March that a possible failure of the agreement would be a great loss.

French President Emmanuel Macron was in Washington in an attempt to try and persuade Trump not to walk away from the accord.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday he had agreed with his Chinese counterpart that Moscow and Beijing would try to block any US attempt to wreck the nuclear deal.

Iran has said it would ramp up its nuclear programme if the deal collapses.

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Middle East

Putin warns against further actions violating UN charter

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Vladimir Putin

Moscow, April 16 : Further actions violating the UN charter such as the recent US-led strikes on Syria will result in chaos in international relations, Russian President Vladimir Putin told his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani over phone on Sunday.

The two leaders condemned Saturday’s airstrikes by the US and its allies on Syria and agreed that it would hinder the process of a political settlement in the war-torn country, according to a Kremlin statement, Xinhua news agency reported.

“It was stated that this illegal action seriously damages the prospects for a political settlement in Syria. Putin in particular stressed that if such actions, carried out in violation of the UN Charter, continue, it will inevitably lead to chaos in international relations,” the statement read.

The US, together with Britain and France, launched missile strikes on Syria on Saturday, saying that it was in response to an alleged chemical weapon attack by the Syrian military. The Syrian government has categorically denied the accusation.

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on the same day held an emergency meeting over the missile attack at Russia’s request but failed to approve a resolution condemning the bombardment.

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Middle East

Saudi Arabia supports US-led airstrikes on Syria

The Ministry expressed Saudi Arabia’s full support to the US, Britain and France’s military operations on military targets in Syria.

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Syrian Strike

Riyadh, April 14 : Saudi Arabia on Saturday extended support to the coordinated missile strikes by the US, Britain and France on military targets in Syria.

The official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) cited a source in the Saudi Foreign Ministry as saying that “the Ministry expressed Saudi Arabia’s full support to the US, Britain and France’s military operations on military targets in Syria”.

An official from the Ministry highlighted that the operations were a response to the use of banned chemical weapons by the Syrian regime against innocent civilians and its years of “horrible crimes”, the agency report said.

The official held the Syrian government responsible for such military attack and the international community for not taking serious steps against the regime.

The US, Britain and France launched coordinated strikes against Syria’s research, storage and military targets to “punish” the Bashar al-Assad regime for an apparent chemical attack in Douma last week that killed over 70 people. The military action was denounced by Damascus and its ally Moscow as a “failure” and “an act of aggression”.

Western allies warned Syria on Saturday that they could launch further attacks if chemical weapons were used again.

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