UN food agency still seeking agreement with Yemen’s Houthis to stop aid diversion
UN humanitarians have said they are still seeking an agreement with Houthi opposition fighters in Yemen to stop diverting desperately-needed aid to millions of people.
Most of the 12 million people the World Food Programme (WFP) wants to reach are in Houthi-controlled areas, according to spokesperson Herve Verhoosel.
“WFP sincerely hopes that it can reach agreement with the authorities in Houthi areas of Yemen to avoid the suspension, as the needs of 12 million people would depend on our assistance, and are of course a priority… all this needs to stop. We are here to save 12 million people - many of them children and women - to save them from famine. I mean, everybody should work together. And the first interest of everybody today should be the civilian population.”
WFP wants greater freedom of movement inside the war-torn country and a biometric aid registration programme in Houthi-controlled areas, to match what is happening in Government-held zones.
On Monday, the agency said that its greatest challenge came “not from the guns” but instead from some “obstructive and uncooperative” Houthi leaders.
In an update to journalists in Geneva, Mr. Verhoosel said that 87 aid trucks remain blocked “across different security and customs checkpoints” in Ibb and Al-Bayda governorates.
Since March 2015, some 7,169 civilians have been killed in Yemen, and nearly 11,400have been injured, the UN human rights office said on Tuesday.
ISIL children held in ‘secret detention facilities’, UN human rights office warns
To Syria now, where it is suspected that children whose fathers fought for ISIL are being held in unidentified “settlements” and “secret detention facilities” away from their mothers, UN human rights office, OHCHR, said on Tuesday.
Spokesperson Marta Hurtado cited information suggesting that Kurdish authorities were responsible for holding youngsters over 12 years old in al-Hassakeh governorate, in the far north-east of the country.
She said that reportedly, they are neither allowed to communicate with their families, nor have the families been informed about their whereabouts or status.
OHCHR is also concerned about the fate of people in al-Hol camp – also in al-Hassakeh Governorate - who fled the last ISIL-held areas in the country, as they were being reclaimed by Kurdish-led forces.
Today, the camp hosts more than 70,000 people who face dire living conditions.
This includes some 2,500 children under 12 years old who were born to ISIL-affiliated fathers and have been allowed to stay with their mothers.
Venezuela’s masses need international protection, urges UNHCR
And finally, to Venezuela, where the UN refugee agency says that the “majority” of those leaving the country need international protection.
Since 2015, UNHCR says that about three million people have left the South American country, amid ongoing social and political unrest and mass demonstrations.
In updated guidance to neighbouring countries, UNHCR urges them to allow Venezuelans access to their territory.
In particular, it highlights the critical need for the protection of people “forced to flee for their lives and freedoms”, in line with the 1951 Refugee Convention, and the 1984 Cartagena Declaration that applies in Latin America.
Here’s spokesperson Liz Throssell:
“It’s taking into consideration the worsening situation, the increasing number of Venezuelans that are leaving. What it does crucially point out is the need for international refugee protection under this Cartagena Declaration of 1984 which has a broader criteria (she says criteria) for considering someone in need of refugee protection relating to generalized violence or people at threat from serious disturbances to public order.”
By the end of 2018, some 460,000 Venezuelans had formally sought asylum, saysUNHCR, the majority in neighbouring countries in Latin America.
Daniel Johnson, UN News