UN warns of mass famine in Yemen over Saudi blockade of aid


United Nations: Yemen is facing a mass famine that will affect millions of lives unless the Saudi-led coalition ends its blockade and allows aid deliveries into the country, the UN aid chief warned.

Mark Lowcock, the UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, warned “it will be the largest famine the world has seen for many decades, with millions of victims.” The UN official spoke to reporters after briefing the UN Security Council during a closed-door session on the crisis in Yemen, where the coalition has been waging a military campaign against Huthi rebels since March 2015.

The council demanded that the Saudi-led coalition keep Yemen’s air and sea ports open to aid deliveries in a country where seven million people are already at risk of famine. Council members expressed concern about the “dire humanitarian situation in Yemen” and stressed “the importance of keeping all of Yemen’s ports and airports functioning,” Italian Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, who holds the council presidency, told reporters after the meeting.

US lauds Saudi exposure of Iran’s support for Yemen rebels
The coalition shut down Yemen’s borders in response to a missile attack by Yemen’s Huthi rebels that was intercepted near the Riyadh airport. But the United Nations, which had already listed Yemen as the world’s number one humanitarian crisis, responded to the decision with dismay, warning that the situation was already “catastrophic” in the country.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres spoke with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir by phone yesterday and received some “indication that they will be examining the reopening of entry points into Yemen,” said Cardi. Some 17 million Yemenis are in desperate need of food, seven million of whom are at risk of famine and cholera has caused more than 2,000 deaths.

On Tuesday, a Red Cross shipment of chlorine tablets, which are used for the prevention of cholera, was blocked at Yemen’s northern border, the International Committee for the Red Cross said. The UN aid chief said humanitarian flights must be allowed to resume to the rebel-held capital Sanaa and to the government-controlled city of Aden.

Riyadh rejects reports of prince’s death in graft purge
He called for “immediate access to all sea ports” for deliveries of fuel, food and other vital supplies — as well as assurances from the coalition that there will be no further disruption. “What we need to see is a reduction of blockages on all sides, not an increase in them,” said Lowcock. The Saudi-led Arab military coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 to support President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi after the Huthis forced him into exile.

The Arab world’s poorest country, Yemen is almost totally dependent on imports for food, fuel and medicine. UN aid agencies and other relief organizations have said the border closures have led to a surge in prices of many goods. French medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said Wednesday that the coalition had denied clearance for its flights for the past three days, directly hindering its ability to provide life-saving aid. The war has had a heavy toll on civilians, killing thousands and destroying the already weak health system.




Texas church shooting not 'racially motivated'


Houston: “Domestic situation” was involved in a rural Texas church shooting during which a gunman with an assault rifle killed at least 26 people during Sunday services, a Texas law enforcement official confirmed. “There was a domestic situation going on within the family and the in-laws,” Xinhua news agency quoted Freeman Martin, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, as telling the media outside the church in Sutherland Springs, about 65 km east of San Antonio.

He said that the suspect, identified as Devin Patrick Kelley, sent threatening text to his mother-in-law in the morning before launching the shooting attack. “The mother-in-law attended the church. We know he sent threatening … that she had received threatening text messages from him.”

“The domestic situation will continue to be thoroughly investigated. This was not racially motivated,” Martin said. Texas Governor Greg Abbott said on Sunday that at least 26 people were killed after the gunman opened fire at the church in Sutherland Springs, a community of fewer than 400 residents.
The attack in the church was the deadliest mass shooting in the state’s history, he added. The lone gunman, dressed in black tactical gear and a ballistic vest, drove up to the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs at around 11:30 a.m. on Sunday and started firing inside. As he left the church, a local resident grabbed his rifle and engaged with the suspect, Martin said. The gunman, 26, was later found dead nearby in his car, apparently of a gunshot wound, after he fled the scene.




2 killed, 1 injured in firing inside Walmart


Colorado: Reports of firing between unknown assailants and Thornton Police inside a Walmart store in Denver have been reported from Colorado.
The incident occurred in the evening around 6.30pm on Wednesday when the storekeepers called the Thornton Police to intervene. Two men were killed during the firing inside the store injuring a woman.

Officer Victor Avila of Thornton Police Department speaking of the situation said, “We’ve got multiple parties down, we’re still trying to ascertain what their conditions are”, adding that the firing inside the store had ceased by the time the Police arrived at the store.
She added that an hour after the incident the status of threat remains unclear to the Police.
Thornton city is about 16kms from Denver and nearly 120,000 reside in the city.

It is still not clear if at all any assailant had been arrested.
A local news reported a woman’s son who was inside the store during the firing had heard 30 gunshots.

However, a video posted on Twitter shows the store empty except the Police officers with their guns drawn out.

A local news channel showed Police cars, ambulances surrounding the Walmart store which is adjacent to US Interstate 25.




21 killed in air strike on hotel in Yemen


Sana’a: At least 21 people were killed and another seven wounded on Wednesday in an air strike by the Saudi-led Arab coalition on a hotel in northern Yemen’s Sa’dah province controlled by the Houthi rebels.
The attack destroyed the hotel located near a market in Suhar region, Efe news reported.

All the victims were men but it was not clear whether they were civilians or Houthi fighters, the report said.
Since 2010, the Houthi insurgents control Saada, a province bordering Saudi Arabia.
The Arab coalition’s military intervention in Yemen began in March 2015 in support of the government led by President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi and against the Houthi rebels, who control the capital Sana’a and the wide stretches in the western part of the country.

The alliance of Arab and Sunni countries have previously been accused of bombing civilian targets including schools and hospitals, but it has denied intentionally targeting civilian infrastructure or property.

—IANS




North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un congratulated Xi Jinping on his win


By Agencies
Seoul: North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un wished his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping “great success” in a congratulatory but comparatively restrained message after he cemented his grip on power at a landmark Communist Party Congress.

Kim’s note extended “sincere congratulations” to the Chinese president, who was formally given a second term as the head of the ruling party, state-run KCNA said today. The message, sent Wednesday, also “expressed conviction that the relations between the two parties and the two countries would develop in the interests of the peoples of the two countries,” KCNA said.

But the brief, four-sentence missive was a notable contrast to the fulsome terms in which Kim praised the Chinese leader and his country when Xi ascended to power five years ago. Ties between the two neighbours have soured in recent years as the North staged a series of nuclear tests and missile launches despite opposition by Beijing — its sole diplomatically and economic lifeline.

In 2012 Kim described the two nations as “friendly neighbours linked by the same mountain and rivers” and bilateral ties as the “common precious wealth associated with the wisdom and efforts of the leaders of the elder generations”.

Beijing has been reluctant to slap sanctions harsh enough to rattle the North’s political status quo over fears that its collapse could send an influx of refugees across their shared border and place the US army at China’s doorstep. But in a sign of irritation at its unpredictable neighbour, Beijing cut all its coal imports from the North earlier this year and voted in favour of broader UN sanctions imposed on Pyongyang in recent months.




Arab League calls for Israel boycott as peaceful resistance


Cairo: The Arab League (AL) called on Arab States on Monday to reactivate boycott of Israel, describing it as a peaceful resistance to press Israel to abide by international resolutions.
AL Assistant Secretary General for Palestine and the Occupied Arab Territories Affairs Saed Abu Ali made the remarks at the 91st meeting of the Arab boycott offices in Cairo, Xinhua news agency reported.

He said that the international boycott of Israel had achieved success at both popular and official levels.
He noted that the conference coincided with the latest crucial development taking place in Palestine, featured by the Egypt-sponsored Palestinian internal reconciliation.
Ali reiterated the continuing Arab support for the struggle of the Palestinian people to end the Israeli occupation and to establish a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

He praised the UN Human Rights Committee for preparing a blacklist of “all business enterprises” that had enabled or profited from the expansion of Israeli settlements.

The companies who backed the Israeli occupation were challenging the international law and undermining the two-state solution, he said.

The AL official added that people around the world had expressed their solidarity with the Palestinian people through boycotting those companies that supported Israeli occupation.

Ali spoke highly of the role that the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement played in achieving a qualitative leap during the past four years in academic, cultural and economic fields.

IANS




Nearly 590,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh threatened by diseases: UN


United Nations: Nearly 590,00 Rohingya refugees have been admitted to camps in Bangladesh and 320,00 refugee children among them are threatened by water-borne diseases and desperate living conditions, a UN spokesman said Friday.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that 589,000 Rohingyas have fled Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State since alleged retaliation following a deadly rebel militia attack on Aug. 25 against police posts, said Farhan Haq, the UN spokesman.

Just over half of the new arrivals in Bangladesh are staying in Kutupalong Expansion, he said. It was described as a single large site where aid partners are working with authorities to improve road access, infrastructure and basic services.
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said nearly 7,000 of the refugees had been admitted to Bangladesh after spending up to four days stranded near the border. “Thousands more are believed to be on their way from Myanmar.”
The most vulnerable among the new arrivals are taken by bus from the border to a transit center, where the UNHCR and its partners provide food, water, medical checks and temporary shelter, Haq said.

The UN Children’s Agency (UNICEF) said that desperate living conditions and water-borne diseases are threatening more than 320,000 Rohingya refugee children, he said.

A new report by the agency said most of the refugees are living in overcrowded and unsanitary makeshift settlements.

Despite an expanding international aid effort led by the government of Bangladesh, the report said that the essential needs of many children are not being met, the spokesman said. “UNICEF is also calling for an end to the atrocities targeting civilians in Rakhine State, as well as for humanitarian actors to be given immediate and unfettered access.”

A pledging conference for donors next Monday in Geneva was announced earlier this week. Officials said they hope to raise $434 million to aid Rohingya refugees and their hosts, some 11.2 million people in all. So far it is only 26 per cent funded.

—IANS




38 people injured in twin blasts in Baluchistan


Karachi: Two grenade blasts have rocked Pakistan’s restive south-western province of Baluchistan, injuring at least 38 people, police said.

The twin blasts took place within minutes in the Mastung and Gwadar districts, police said. According to senior police officials, around 12 people were injured, three of them seriously, when two men on a motorcycle wearing helmets threw a hand grenade at a crowd in the Sultan Shaheed area in Mastung town yesterday.

The injured were shifted to a hospital while three were moved to Quetta as their condition was serious, local police official Gulab Khan said. The second attack took place when two men on a motorcycle threw a hand grenade at Al-Zubair hotel outside a mobile market in Safar Khan area of Gwadar town.

“At least 26 people were injured in the blast,” local police official Ayaz Baluch said. He said the injured included 15 labourers from Sindh and 11 from Punjab who had gathered after work to have tea. “Three of them have been shifted to Karachi for treatment,” he said. The injured have been shifted to District Headquarters (DHQ) Hospital Mastung.

Chief Minister of Balochistan Sanaullah Zehri has condemned the incidents and asked the authorities to submit a report on the blasts. The attacks have come, a day after a suspected suicide bomber hit a police truck in Quetta, Baluchistan’s capital, killing seven policemen and a civilian and injuring 22 others.




276 killed in deadliest single attack in Somalia’s history


                              

Mogadishu: The most powerful bomb blast ever witnessed in Somalia’s capital killed 276 people with around 300 others injured, the country’s information minister said early today, making it the deadliest single attack in this Horn of Africa nation.

The toll could continue to rise. In a tweet, Abdirahman Osman called the attack “barbaric” and said countries including Turkey and Kenya had already offered to send medical aid. Hospitals were overwhelmed a day after a truck bomb targeted a crowded street near key government ministries, including foreign affairs.

As angry protesters gathered near the scene of the attack, Somalia’s government blamed the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group for what it called a “national disaster.” However, Africa’s deadliest Islamic extremist group, which often targets high-profile areas of the capital, had yet to comment. Al-Shabab earlier this year vowed to step up attacks after both the Trump administration and Somalia’s recently elected president announced new military efforts against the group.
The Mogadishu bombing is one of the deadliest attacks in sub-Saharan Africa, larger than the Garissa University attack in Kenya in 2015 and the US Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. Doctors at Mogadishu hospitals struggled to assist badly wounded victims, many burned beyond recognition. “This is really horrendous, unlike any other time in the past,” said Dr Mohamed Yusuf, the director of Medina hospital.

             276 killed in deadliest single attack in Somalia’s history के लिए चित्र परिणाम

Inside, bleary-eyed nurses transported a man whose legs had been blown off. He waited as surgeons attended to another badly injured patient. Exhausted doctors struggled to keep their eyes open, while screams from victims and newly bereaved families echoed through the halls.

“Nearly all of the wounded victims have serious wounds,” said nurse Samir Abdi. “Unspeakable horrors.” The smell of blood was strong. A teary-eyed Hawo Yusuf looked at her husband’s badly burned body. “He may die waiting,” she said. “We need help.”

Ambulance sirens echoed across the city as bewildered families wandered in the rubble of buildings, looking for missing relatives. “In our 10 year experience as the first responder in #Mogadishu, we haven’t seen anything like this,” the Aamin Ambulance service tweeted. Grief overwhelmed many.

“There’s nothing I can say. We have lost everything,” wept Zainab Sharif, a mother of four who lost her husband. She sat outside a hospital where he was pronounced dead after hours of efforts by doctors to save him. The country’s Somali-American leader, President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, declared three days of mourning and joined thousands of people who responded to a desperate plea by hospitals to donate blood. “I am appealing all Somali people to come forward and donate,” he said.

Mogadishu, a city long accustomed to deadly bombings by al-Shabab, was stunned by the force of Saturday’s blast. The explosion shattered hopes of recovery in an impoverished country left fragile by decades of conflict, and it again raised doubts over the government’s ability to secure the seaside city of more than 2 million people.

“They don’t care about the lives of Somali people, mothers, fathers and children,” Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire said of the attackers. “They have targeted the most populated area in Mogadishu, killing only civilians.” Rescue workers searched for survivors trapped under the rubble of the largely destroyed Safari Hotel, which is close to Somalia’s foreign ministry. The explosion blew off metal gates and blast walls erected outside the hotel.

The United States condemned the bombing, saying “such cowardly attacks reinvigorate the commitment of the United States to assist our Somali and African Union partners to combat the scourge of terrorism.” It tweeted a photo of its charge d’affaires in Somalia donating blood. But the US Africa Command said US forces had not been asked to provide aid. A spokesman told The Associated Press that first responders and local enforcement would handle the response and “the US would offer assistance if and when a request was made.”

The US military has stepped up drone strikes and other efforts this year against al-Shabab, which is also fighting the Somali military and over 20,000 African Union forces in the country. The United Nations special envoy to Somalia called the attack “revolting,” saying an unprecedented number of civilians had been killed. Michael Keating said the UN and African Union were supporting the Somali government’s response with “logistical support, medical supplies and expertise.”

The spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned the attack and urged all Somalis to unite against extremism and work together to build a “functional” federal state. Saturday’s blast occurred two days after the head of the US Africa Command was in Mogadishu to meet with Somalia’s president, and two days after the country’s defense minister and army chief resigned for undisclosed reasons.

Amid the chaos, the stories of victims began to emerge. Amino Ahmed said one of her friends, a female medical student, was killed on the eve of her graduation. The explosion also killed a couple returning from a hospital after having their first child, said Dahir Amin Jesow, a Somali lawmaker. “It’s a dark day for us,” he said.




Spanish government to hold meeting over situation in Catalonia


Madrid: The Spanish government will meet on Wednesday due to the extraordinary situation created on Tuesday after President of the regional government of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, said the effects of the declaration of independence will be suspended to open a period of dialogue.

Spain’s Deputy Prime Minster, Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, said on Tuesday there would be an extraordinary cabinet meeting on Wednesday to discuss the situation, Xinhua news agency reported.  Saenz de Santamaria said that Puigdemont has made Catalonia unstable and that his speech showed he does not know where he is going.

According to Saenz de Santamaria, the regional government of Catalonia, Generalitat, cannot confirm the results of the referendum because it is illegal.  Neither Puigdemont nor others can draw conclusions from a law that does not exist, a referendum that did not take place, she said, adding that the laws passed by the Catalan parliament were illegal too.

Puigdemont appeared at the Catalan parliament on Tuesday and proposed to suspend the effects of the declaration of independence a few weeks in order to open a process of dialogue.    Catalan leaders have signed a declaration of independence from Spain but suspended it to allow talks with the government in Madrid.

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and other regional leaders have signed a declaration of independence from Spain, following the disputed referendum.  However, they say the move will not be implemented for several weeks to allow talks with the government in Madrid, BBC reported.  The document calls for Catalonia to be recognised as an “independent and sovereign state”.

The move was immediately dismissed by the Spanish central government in Madrid.  A October 1 referendum in the north-eastern province — which Catalan leaders say resulted in a Yes vote for independence – was declared invalid by Spain’s Constitutional Court.  Earlier on Tuesday, Puigdemont told the Catalan parliament in Barcelona that the region had won the right to be independent as a result of the vote.  The referendum resulted in almost 90 per cent of voters backing independence, Catalan officials say. But anti-independence voters largely boycotted the ballot – which had a reported turnout of 43 per cent – and there were several reports of irregularities.

The declaration reads: “We call on all states and international organisations to recognise the Catalan republic as an independent and sovereign state.”  Puigdemont told the regional parliament that the “people’s will” was to break away from Madrid, but he also said he wanted to “de-escalate” the tension around the issue.  “We are all part of the same community and we need to go forward together. The only way forward is democracy and peace,” he told deputies.

But he also said Catalonia was being denied the right to self-determination, and paying too much in taxes to the central government in Madrid.  Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria responded to Tuesday’s developments by saying: “Neither Puigdemont nor anybody else can claim… to impose mediation.  “Any dialogue between democrats has to take place within the law.”




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