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UN: Escalating war in Yemen fuels hunger and economic collapse

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Hundreds of civilians were killed and thousands displaced in Yemen over the past month, and conflict continues to escalate, while aid is coming short.

Escalating military action in Yemen has left the Arab world’s poorest nation facing growing hunger and economic collapse with no political solution in sight.

More than 15,000 people were displaced over the past month, and more than 350 civilians were killed or injured in December, senior UN officials said on Wednesday.

In the seventh year of conflict, the warring parties seem to be seeking military victory, UN special envoy Hans Grundberg told the UN Security Council.

“There is no sustainable long-term solution to be found on the battlefield” and both sides must talk even if they are not ready to lay down their arms, he added.

358 civilians were reportedly killed or injured in December, “a figure that is tied for the highest in three years,” Ramesh Rajasingham, the UN’s deputy humanitarian chief, said.

READ MORE: Civilians killed in Houthi missile attack on Yemen fuel station

“An escalatory cycle”

“We appear to once more be entering an escalatory cycle with predictable devastating implications for civilians and for the immediate prospects of peace,” Grundberg told the council.

Iranian-backed Houthi rebels are pressing their assault on the key city of Marib, the last government stronghold in northern Yemen, Grundberg said, as he expressed concern that battles could intensify on other fronts.

There is already renewed fighting in the southern province of Shabwa. Elsewhere, airstrikes have increased and fighting continues along dozens of front lines, as attacks have increased on neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

He also called accusations that ports in mainly Houthi-controlled Hodaida – a lifeline for delivering aid, food and fuel to the country – are being militarised “worrying.”

READ MORE: Saudi-led coalition pushes against Houthi gains in Yemen

Funding shortages

Moreover, programs providing food, water, protection for civilians and reproductive health services were forced to scale back or even close due to funding shortages in 2021, Rajasingham said.

Last year’s UN appeal for about $3.9 billion to help 16 million people was only 58 percent funded, the lowest level since 2015, and UN expects this year’s aid operation to need roughly as much money.

Rajaingham urged donors to sustain and if possible increase their support this year, while especially calling on the Houthis to improve access for humanitarian staff and to stop attempts to interfere with their work.

While humanitarian aid is essential, Rajasingham stressed that the biggest drivers of people’s needs are economic collapse accelerated by conflict.

Humanitarian needs could be reduced by a resumption of foreign exchange injections through the Central Bank, and policy decisions to lift import restrictions, Rajasingham added.

READ MORE: New realities in the Gulf: What’s in store for 2022?

Source: TRTWorld and agencies

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Pakistan’s Imran Khan calls for march on Islamabad to press early polls

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Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan has called for his supporters to march peacefully on Islamabad on May 25th to press for fresh elections.

Khan, who served as prime minister for over three and half years, was ousted in April through a no-confidence vote in parliament by an alliance of all major political parties.

Since his ouster, he’s addressed rallies in several cities as he mobilises for a grand show of strength in the capital on Wednesday.

Khan’s call on Sunday came after a marathon session of leaders from his Tehreek-e-Insaf, or Pakistan Justice Party, in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

He describes the march as a move to protect the country’s sovereignty, as he alleges that the vote that removed him was a US-organised plot.

READ MORE: Shehbaz Sharif elected Pakistan’s new PM after Imran Khan’s ouster

READ MORE: ‘Are we your slaves’: Pakistani premier hits out at West over Russia letter

Parliament dissolution, fresh elections

In his speech, Khan urged authorities not to oppose the march, which will gain strength outside of Islamabad before heading to the city centre.

There, he said his supporters will remain until Parliament is dissolved and new elections are called.

Thousands have come to his rallies in the past.

Khan claims America wanted him gone because of his foreign policy choices in favour of Russia and China, and a visit he made on Feb 24 to Moscow, where he held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin as Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine.

He has also said the US dislikes his strident criticism of Washington’s war on terror.

The US State Department has denied any involvement in Pakistan’s internal politics.

READ MORE: Pakistan boosts Imran Khan’s security after his claim of deadly plot

Source: TRTWorld

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China, Pakistan vow to strengthen all-round cooperation

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China and Pakistan vowed on Sunday to further deepen all-round cooperation in areas such as energy, industry, agriculture, information technology and transportation infrastructure.

The agreement was made during a meeting between Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari in Guangzhou City, south China’s Guangdong Province.

Noting that this is Bilawal’s first bilateral visit abroad since assuming office last month and also the first offline high-level interaction between the two countries after the establishment of the new Pakistani government, Wang said the visit has further consolidated the traditional friendship between the two countries.

The solidarity and cooperation of the two countries has become an important stabilizing factor in a turbulent and changing world, he said, calling for joint efforts in building a closer China-Pakistan community with a shared future.

Bilawal, for his part, said Pakistan, as an “iron-clad” friend of China, is glad to see its achievements and is convinced that no force can stop it from moving forward.

The Pakistan-China friendship is the cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign relations, and also the inevitable choice of Pakistan, he said.

The Pakistani side is committed to the one-China policy, and supports China in safeguarding all of its core interests, he added.

The two sides also agreed that any terrorist attack against Chinese citizens in Pakistan is unacceptable and any despicable attempt to undermine China-Pakistan friendship will not succeed.

Three Chinese teachers and a Pakistani national were killed in an explosion at the University of Karachi on April 26, which was claimed by the Baloch Liberation Army.

Wang said, China supports Pakistan in speeding up the investigation of the case, finding the perpetrators and punishing them, and will continue to provide support and assistance to Pakistan in its fight against terrorism.

The two sides agreed that the world has entered a period of turbulence and change, and the international community’s call for peace and development has become stronger, he said.

The two sides also agreed that the sound situation of peace, stability, cooperation and development in Asia is the result of the concerted efforts of countries in the region and should be cherished all the more, he added.

(Cover: Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R) meets Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari in Guangzhou City, south China’s Guangdong Province, May 22, 2022. /China’s Foreign Ministry)

 

Source: CGTN

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Australia swears in Anthony Albanese as new PM

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Centre-left leader is sworn in as Australia’s 31st prime minister, a few hours before flying out to attend an international security summit in Tokyo.

Australia’s Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese has been sworn in as the country’s new prime minister as he promised a “journey of change” vowing to tackle climate crisis and rising living costs.

Along with Albanese, deputy Labor leader Richard Marles and three key ministers in waiting –– Penny Wong in foreign affairs, Jim Chalmers as treasurer and Katy Gallagher in finance –– were sworn in on Monday at a ceremony in the national capital, Canberra.

Albanese was sworn in a few hours before flying out to attend an international summit in Tokyo. Albanese, who says Australia is willing to engage with the world on climate crisis, is joining a summit on Tuesday with the US, Japanese and Indian leaders, known as the Quad.

“It’s a big day in my life but a big day for the country, when we change the government,” Albanese told reporters outside his Sydney suburban home ahead of the ceremony.

“I want to channel the opportunity that we have to shape change so that we bring people with us on the journey of change. I want to bring the country together.”

Albanese said he spoke to US President Joe Biden on Sunday night and was looking forward to meeting him during the Quad summit on Tuesday alongside the prime ministers of Japan and India.

He will return to Australia on Wednesday.

Back after nine years in opposition 

Labor will retake power after nine years in opposition as a wave of unprecedented support for the Greens and climate-focussed independents, mostly women, helped end nearly a decade of rule by the conservative coalition.

Labor’s campaign heavily spotlighted Albanese’s working-class credentials –– a boy raised in public housing by a single mother on a disability pension –– and his image as a pragmatic unifier.

Centre-left Labor still remains four seats short of a majority of 76 in the 151 seat lower house with about a dozen races too close to call, according to television channels.

Some predicted Labor might get enough seats to govern on their own.

Official results could be several days away, with the counting of a record 2.7 million postal votes underway on Sunday.

Source: TRTWorld 

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