Sanaa: As per a media report, 17 Houthi rebels and about 19 civilians were killed by Saudi-led warplanes in multiple airstrikes in Yemen’s northern province of Hajjah on Sunday.
“A total of 17 new recruited young rebels training in Abs military camp at Abs district in Hajjah were killed and other dozens were severely injured,” an official there told Xinhua by phone.
“The next-door bottling plant, which is frequented by the rebels, was also hit by the fighter jets, killing at least 19 workers and wounding several others,” the official added.
Both these incidents were confirmed by several witnesses and residents. According to them both air attacks were part of at least 15 airstrikes on several Shiite rebel positions in the area since early Sunday morning.
The Saudi-led Arab coalition has been air striking on a daily basis the Iranian-allied Shiite Houthi group across the country since March 26, when President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi fled to the Saudi capital Riyadh to take refuge.
Living through years of Yemen’s devastating war has been a constant struggle for Afaf Mohammed al-Adwar, who uses a wheelchair because of congenital spinal damage.
But she is now determined to demonstrate her ability to cope by participating in a women’s wheelchair basketball championship.
The 16-year-old sportswoman joined dozens of other girls and women with mobility impairment in a wheelchair basketball tournament that was held in Sanaa this month.
She told VOA that her participation was “the first step” toward showing the plight of Yemen’s women and girls with disabilities during four years of civil war between the government and Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
“We are trying to show people that we are not just disabled, but we are able to do whatever we aspire to,” al-Adwar said.
She said that women and girls with disabilities in Yemen are on the margins of society, excluded from basic humanitarian assistance, while at the same time facing gender-based discrimination.
“The society frowns upon letting girls leave their houses, let alone allowing them to play sports. It was hard for my family at first to let me play, but when they saw me in the games, they started encouraging and supporting me,” she told VOA, adding that she was grateful to be a part of an attempt to change the common mentality of a rather conservative society going through conflict.
Five teams competed in a weeklong championship that started on December 7 and was sponsored by the Red Cross and other organizations in Yemen working to benefit people with disabilities.
The winners will compete in a regional championship next year in Beirut.
Al-Adwar’s team, al-Tahadi Organization for Supporting Women with Disabilities, came in fourth place and received a special award for their “sport spirit.”
Jihad Hammoud Ahmed Jaber, a spokesperson for the al-Tahadi Organization, told VOA such activities will empower girls and women with disabilities to become active members of their communities. At the same time, they will help change societal perceptions by creating a more inclusive atmosphere for everyone.
“The goal of having a women’s basketball championship was to make the women get out from their isolation, especially amid the ongoing war in the country,” Jaber said. “Those who didn’t allow their daughters to play a sport, we wanted to show them how this can help their daughters physically and mentally and how it can give their daughters strength and empowerment.”
The conflict in Yemen escalated after Iran-backed Houthis overran Sanaa in September 2014. In 2015, the conflict turned into a proxy war when an international coalition led by Saudi Arabia launched a military and economic campaign against the Houthis.
The United Nations calls the situation in Yemen the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. It has warned that people with disabilities are the country’s most vulnerable, facing immense hardship to get much medical aid or to move from battlefield zones to safer refuges.
Rights group Amnesty International estimates that the devastating conflict has left 4.5 million Yemenis, or 15% of the country’s population, with some form of disability. In a 50-page report published this month, the organization concluded that the conflict has limited health services for Yemenis with disabilities and taken away their rights to education and employment opportunities, while adding risks from violence and living in displacement.
It said some people with disabilities were separated from their families and left behind as people fled war “because the trip was too difficult for the person with a disability to undertake.”
“Yemen’s war has been characterized by unlawful bombings, displacement and a dearth of basic services, leaving many struggling to survive. The humanitarian response is overstretched, but people with disabilities — who are already among those most at risk in armed conflict — should not face even greater challenges in accessing essential aid,” said Rawya Rageh, the group’s crisis adviser. (VOA)
The U.N. says over 460,000 suspected cholera cases have been recorded in war-battered Yemen so far this year — a sharp rise from the 380,000 cases for all of 2018. U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq says 705 suspected cholera deaths have been recorded since January — a dramatic increase from the 75 deaths in the same period last year.
Haq says the spread of cholera has been accelerated by recent flash flooding, poor maintenance of waste management systems and lack of access to clean water.
The U.N. and its partners are operating nearly 1,200 cholera treatment facilities across Yemen, but Haq says “funding remains an urgent issue.” The U.N.’s $4.2 billion humanitarian appeal to help over 20 million Yemenis this year is only 32 percent funded. (VOA)
The Consulate General of India, in association with the Saudi Indian Business Network (SIBN), is organising an Indian Food and Film Festival in Jeddah. The two-day event will kick off on Thursday evening on the consulate premises on Prince Muhammad Bin Abdulaziz (Tahliah) Street.
Mir Gazanfar Ali Zaki, General Secretary of SIBN, said that the fourth edition of the food festival would be organised along with the first film festival. Indian Consul General Md Noor Rahman Sheikh will inaugurate the event at 7 p.m. Thursday and consuls general and diplomats of several countries, as well as prominent Saudi officials and business leaders will attend the inaugural ceremony, reports Saudi Gazette.
“Since assuming the office as the Consul General and Vice Patron of SIBN, Sheikh has been extending full support to SIBN enabling it to organise more than 100 events and activities within a short span of time,” Zaki said.
“More than 15 popular Indian restaurants based in Jeddah have confirmed their participation to offer their unique and mouth-watering array of delicacies at one venue,” Zaki said.
Along with the delicious cuisine, entertainment will be adding flavour to the evening. Bollywood blockbusters Tiger Zinda Hai, Bahubali 2 and Raazi will be screened as part of the film festival.