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UN rushes aid as Yemeni port is shelled

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MANHATTAN: As the Yemeni port city of Hodeida continues to come under attack from Saudi-led coalition forces on Thursday, seeking to drive out Houthi rebels who control the city, the United Nations and humanitarian partners are rushing to provide life-saving assistance to thousands of vulnerable families there.

Dozens of UN staff are in the city helping to deliver food, water and health services, Lise Grande, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, said in a statement. We estimate that 600,000 civilians are in the city – many of whom are dependent on assistance to survive.

According to news reports, the assault on the crucial entry point for most of the war-torn country’s essential food imports, began early on Wednesday, after diplomatic attempts to prevent the Yemeni government forces and their allies from launching the offensive, failed.

Humanitarian partners have been preparing for a possible assault for weeks. Agencies have prepositioned 63,000 metric tonnes of food, tens of thousands of emergency kits, nutrition supplies, water, and fuel. Medical teams have been dispatched and humanitarian service points established.

Yesterday, even as the city was being shelled and bombarded, an UN-contracted vessel, which is docked at Hodeidah port, off-loaded thousands of metric tonnes of food. Two more vessels are making preparations to do the same, she said. On Thursday, partners have been distributing emergency boxes with food and hygiene supplies to civilians displaced by the fighting, south of the city.

Humanitarian agencies and front-line partners already have substantial aid programmes in the city. Every day 50,000 liters of safe drinking water are being distributed and health teams have been helping to halt the spread of cholera and other life-threatening diseases. Under the international humanitarian law, parties to the conflict are obliged to do everything possible to protect civilians and ensure they have access to the assistance they need to survive, said Ms. Grande.

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Politics

4 years of coalition strikes on Syria kill 3,300 civilians!

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BEIRUT: More than 3,000 civilians have been killed in US-led coalition air strikes against the Islamic State group in Syria since they began four years ago, a monitor said on Sunday.
The Washington-led alliance puts the toll at just over 1,000 civilians in both Syria and neighboring Iraq and says it does all it can to prevent civilian deaths. The coalition began bombing IS targets in Iraq in August 2014 after the jihadist group seized swathes of territory straddling the two countries, proclaiming an Islamic “caliphate”. The coalition extended its strikes to Syria on September 23, 2014. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, said on Sunday those Syria strikes had since killed 3,331 civilians. The monitor relies on a network of sources inside Syria and tracks flight patterns, aircraft involved and ammunition used to determine who carries out raids.
“Among those killed are 826 children and 615 women,” said Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman.  The coalition says it takes every possible precaution to prevent civilian deaths.  In its latest civilian casualty report published last month, the coalition said its strikes had unintentionally killed 1,061 civilians in both Iraq and Syria up until July 30, 2018.  It is still assessing a further 216 reports of civilian casualties, some of them in strikes dating back to 2014.  Its spokesman did not immediately respond to an AFP request for comment on the discrepancy between its toll and that of the Observatory, or for a breakdown of civilian casualties in Syria. The coalition’s operations have largely wound down, with the jihadists ousted from all but tiny bits of territory in Syria. More than 360,000 people have been killed across Syria since the conflict broke out in 2011, nearly a third of them civilians, according to the Observatory.

 

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Asia

Maoist rebels kill India lawmaker: police

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NEW DELHI: Maoist rebels were accused Sunday of assassinating a south Indian lawmaker and another former legislator in a brazen daytime ambush on their vehicle, police and media reports said.
Kidari Sarveswara Rao, a member of the ruling party in Andhra Pradesh state, was shot dead near the coastal city of Visakhapatnam in what police say was a targeted hit on the sitting legislator.
Former lawmaker S. Soma, who was accompanying Rao, was also gunned down in the attack blamed on Maoist fighters active in a forested belt of central and eastern India.
E. Naidu, a local police official, told AFP that Rao was on a Maoist “hit list” of powerful figures accused of having ties to bauxite miners in the mineral-rich state.
“There were some 30 Maoists in hiding. They attacked suddenly, giving no time for them (Rao and Soma) to react,” he said.
The Press Trust of India reported that a large group blocked the car and overpowered the bodyguards escorting the two officials, before turning their weapons on them.
It was the first such attack in many years in Andhra Pradesh, once a hotbed for insurgents fighting for what they say are the land rights of marginalized tribal communities.
Maoists are still active across thousands of square miles of central and eastern India known as the “Red Corridor”.
The insurgency began in West Bengal five decades ago when peasant farmers rose up against feudal landlords. Some 10,000 people have been killed since.

 

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Europe

Macron’s popularity at record lows

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PARIS: The popularity of French President Emmanuel Macron has hit its lowest level since the start of his term, according to a major tracker poll published on Sunday, with just 29 percent of respondents satisfied with his leadership.
The poll by research group Ifop and published in the Journal du Dimanche showed an overall fall of five points in September compared with August, reflecting the 40-year-old’s battle with a series of domestic and foreign setbacks.
The results of the widely watched Ifop poll are broadly in line with other surveys that have shown the approval ratings of the centrist falling sharply following a scandal involving a security aide in July.
A separate poll by the Kantar Sofres Onepoint group published on September 17 showed that only 19 percent of French people had a positive view of Macron’s record, while another survey on September 11 showed only 29 percent thought he was a “good president.”  The results reinforce a longer-term trend of French voters turning quickly on their presidents soon after their election — something suffered by Macron’s predecessors Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy.
But many analysts also believe Macron has made a series of political errors, including failing to address the scandals over the summer quickly enough and repeatedly creating negative headlines with harsh or condescending remarks.
His leadership style was again questioned last week when he told an unemployed gardener that he should look for a job in a restaurant or on a building site and implied he was not searching hard enough.
Macron’s biggest challenge remains the economy, however, with his pro-business reforms failing so far to produce a significant fall in unemployment or a major uptick in growth. His government will unveil its draft budget for 2019 on Monday, which is set to see fresh efforts to rein in France’s chronic overspending via cuts to the public sector payroll and caps on pensions.
The survey by Ifop published on Sunday was conducted between September 14-22 on 1,964 people. Macron’s approval rating of 29 percent includes 3.0 percent of people who declared themselves “very satisfied” and 26 percent who said they were “mostly satisfied.”
Hollande had an inferior rating of 23 percent at the same time of his term and Sarkozy had a rating of 34 percent.

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