News in Brief 28 January 2021

News in Brief 28 January 2021

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations. 

Escalating hostilities in Yemen’s Hudaydah put thousands of civilians at risk  

Civilians in Yemen’s Hudaydah Governorate face a growing threat from escalating clashes, with shelling of residential areas endangering thousands. 

The warning from the UN’s senior humanitarian official in the country, Auke Lootsma, follows an uptick in fighting since mid-January.  

In the last three months of 2020, 153 civilian casualties were reported in the western Governorate, the highest number across the country. 

Women and children have been the principal victims of the violence and scores of houses and farms have also been damaged in southern districts of the Governorate, Mr Lootsma said in a statement. 

At least 700 people have been displaced to date. 

“The conflict continues to exert misery on millions of lives,” said Mr. Lootsma, insisting that those fighting paid “little or no regard” for civilians or their efforts to work.  

“An immediate end to hostilities is urgently needed to allow humanitarians to conduct needs assessments and provide crucial medical support to wounded civilians and material support to those who have been displaced and lost their livelihoods,” the humanitarian official added.  

Paperwork holds up ailing supertanker inspection 

In a related development, the long-awaited inspection of a rusting oil tanker off the coast of Yemen has been postponed until early March, the United Nations has said. 

The news follows administrative delays involved in securing the necessary international shipping documentation for the mission, “which has now been resolved" UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric reportedly said on Wednesday. 

The 44-year-old Safer supertanker holds 1.1 million barrels of oil.  

Fears of an environmental catastrophe increased last May, when the tanker sprang a leak.  

It was abandoned in 2015  off the coast of Hudaydah when its engine room flooded with seawater, leaving it under the nominal control of Houthi militants - formally known as Ansar Allah – who are fighting the internationally recognized Yemeni Government.  

Sticking to the new inspection timeline would depend upon the cooperation of the Houthis, Mr. Dujarric said. 

Asylum ‘under attack’ at Europe’s borders - UNHCR 

UN refugee agency UNHCR has called for an end to expulsions and pushbacks of refugees and asylum-seekers at Europe’s land and sea borders. 

Amid “continuous” reports that some European States are restricting access to asylum, UNHCR on Thursday called on governments to investigate and end the illegal practice. 

Unnamed States returned people “after they have reached territory or territorial waters (and used) violence against them at borders”, said UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Gillian Triggs. 

“Boats carrying refugees are being towed back, people are being rounded-up after they land and then pushed back to sea,” she said in a statement, alleging further that people’s international protection needs were being ignored systematically. 

Those arriving by land were also being informally detained and then forcibly returned to neighbouring countries without any consideration of their international protection needs, the UNHCR official maintained. 

“While countries have the legitimate right to manage their borders in accordance with international law, they must also respect human rights. Pushbacks are simply illegal,” Ms. Triggs added. 

Daniel Johnson, UN News. 

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  • Escalating hostilities in Yemen’s Hudaydah put thousands of civilians at risk  

  • Paperwork holds up ailing supertanker inspection 

  • Asylum ‘under attack’ at Europe’s borders - UNHCR 

Audio Credit
Daniel Johnson, UN News - Geneva
Audio Duration
2'56"
Photo Credit
UNOCHA/Mahmoud Fadel