Sunday, June 4, 2017

On Yemen & Re-opening Sanaa Airport, ICP Asks IOCA & UNSC Prez of 1-Day a Week Idea

By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, May 30 – When UN envoy on Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed took questions on May 30, Inner City Press asked him about the call to re-open the Sanaa airport to commercial traffic. He replied with a proposal to open it one day a week, video here, and said he hadn't been able to talk about it with the Houthis (with whom the UN and UK said that he had spoken). Minutes later, Inner City Press asked the Security Council's president for May if the Council would be calling for the re-opening the airport in Sanaa. That's up to the negotiations of the envoy on the ground, was the answer. This is dysfunction. When the Council's penholder on Yemen, Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, spoke before the monthly meeting about the country on May 30, he again expressed full support for the UN's holdover Yemen envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmad despite the lack of any progress. Inner City Press asked, loudly, for the UK's view of the non-governmental organization's letter including that the UK and Council should "demand the re-opening of Sana’a airport for commercial flights so that additional humanitarian supplies can enter the country and people in need of medical treatment can leave and call on the parties to the conflict to cooperate with the Special Envoy to work expeditiously on a plan to resume the effective functioning of the Central Bank, thereby enabling the payment of public sector salaries as well as the disbursement of social-welfare cash transfers." Rycroft, who has answered three pre-picked questions from Reuters, CBS and US state media, did not answer. Video here. IOCA is viewed as so one-sided that he was protested in Sanaa on May 22, and the Houthis refused to meet with him , according to their spokesperson. But the UN claimed IOCA met the Houthis. So on May 26, Inner City Press asked the UN, transcript here: Inner City Press: Yesterday, Stéphane said that the envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, had met with a representative of Ansar’Allah or the Houthis, and there's a statement by the Ansar’Allah spokesman, Mohammed Adbul-Salam, that no such meeting occurred, that they refused to meet with them in part because of the non-payment of civil servants throughout the country and in part because they just think that he's on, one-sided.  But, can you confirm, I mean, did the envoy say to the Secretariat that he'd met with the Houthis?  And if so, at what level?  Who did he meet?  Because the spokesman for that party says that there was no meeting.

Deputy Spokesman:  I will just reiterate what we put out in our note to correspondents that there was such a meeting.  We can check with his team who that entailed.
  Four hours later this spokesman Farhan Haq closed the office without having provided any more on this or other Inner City Press' questions. Back on May 23 Inner City Press asked the UN who these guards were - "local" - and with what the envoy was attacks: only plastic bottles and eggs? UN transcript hereand below. On May 24, the UN issued this: "The United Nations Special Envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, concluded today a three-day visit to Sana’a where he met with political leaders from Ansar’Allah and the General People’s Congress and Representatives of other political parties. The talks focused on possible agreements which would to prevent the spread of military activities to Hudeidah and practical ways to ensure the resumption of salaries to all Yemeni civil servants nation-wide.

During his visit, the Special Envoy met as well with members of the Yemeni Women’s Pact for Peace and Security and representatives of civil society organizations to discuss current political challenges and security concerns in addition to the economic crisis and recent outbreak of cholera. In a meeting with Yemeni youth, the Special Envoy discussed mechanisms for greater youth contribution to international efforts to reach a peaceful resolution to the conflict in addition to possible solutions to reopen Sana’a International Airport and prevent further deterioration of the economic and humanitarian situation.

At the end of his visit, the Special Envoy expressed his deep concern regarding the grave attack on his convoy while traveling from the airport to the UN compound on 22 May. The Special Envoy reminded the parties that it is the responsibility of the local authorities to ensure the safety of all UN personnel in the country and urged them to investigate the incident, hold those responsible to account, and prevent any such incidents in the future.  The Special Envoy indicated that the incident increased his determination to continue with his efforts to find a negotiated political settlement that serves the best interests of the Yemeni people.

The Special Envoy’s visit to Sana’a, follows visits to Saudi Arabia and Qatar where he met with government officials as part of his efforts to find a political solution to the conflict in Yemen. He also met with senior World Bank officials in order to support the World Bank – UN collaboration to address the growing food insecurity and economic crisis in Yemen. "
From the May 23 transcript: Inner City Press: there are these reports of the guards of envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed opening fire in the air.  It's unclear if they're… who the guards were, whether they're UN DSS [Department of Safety and Security] or not, and whether he was attacked by bottles and eggs, as one account puts it, or a more serious attack on his convoy.  What are the facts…?

Spokesman:  Yesterday, he was attacked by a… by demonstrators.  My understanding is that there were eggs and other things thrown at him, and a number of shots were also fired at the vehicle.  He is continuing his engagements with the General People's Congress in Sana’a, as earlier planned, as well as Ansarallah.  Obviously, the security and safety of UN personnel is the responsibility of the local authorities, and it's their responsibility to investigate it.  And we reiterate our call on all the parties to engage constructively in the negotiations over cessation of hostilities and resumption of the peace talks.
Inner City Press:  But did those protecting him also fire?  And, if so, who were they?  Were they UN personnel or were they [Abd Rabbuh Mansur] Hadi personnel?

Spokesman:  My understanding is that they were local security personnel.

Inner City Press: A private company?

Spokesman:  They were local security personnel working for the authorities
   Inner City Press is informed that UN DSS, now in a scandal involving its chief Peter Drennan "burying" reports about Irina Bokova of UNESCO in Paris, previously employed in Yemen an individual who passed information to Sauid intelligence. This is today's UN, entirely UNreformed. When the UN's holdover Spokesman Stephane Dujarric was asked on May 8 about the UN bringing expired medicine and medical supplies into Yemen, he didn't deny it. Video here.
  Now on May 15, still without an explanation of the expired UN medicine, Inner City Press asked Dujarric about the day's Saudi-led Coalition bombing. From the UN transcript: Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about Yemen... a Saudi-led coalition air strike near Taiz killed 23 people.  And its so-called loyalist, meaning [Amb Rabbuh Mansur] Hadi-side people, said the number is 20.  Does the UN have any… is there any comment on this?

Spokesman:  I'll check.  I'll check and see what we can get.
  Hours later, nothing. See also letter, here. UN Spokesman Dujarric is aware there's an issue, but reflexively blamed it on delays in getting supplies in. It's been eight days and counting. On May 15, Inner city Press asked Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: in Yemen, now that the Government or the authorities in charge of Sana'a have declared an emergency.  They say there's 115 deaths by cholera.  What is… what is the UN's role in helping to respond to it?  And have you yet gotten anything back on the reports of expired medicines delivered by WHO…?

Spokesman:  No, not on the medicines.  I mean, as I think I said just a few minutes ago, the UN's role is… through WHO, is to support the Government of… support the Government of Yemen through the establishment of rehydration centres, diarrhoea centres, helping with medicines in every way and every way we… we can.

Inner City Press: That's one of the reasons I'm asking.  It's been almost 10 days.  Do they have no response?

Spokesman:  I'm sorry. I was answering you on the outbreak of cholera… I'll check… no, no, I'll check…

Inner City Press:  If you're saying count on W.H.O.…?

Spokesman:  No, I think… that was an isolated incident.  I don't think it impacts WHO's work.
  Back on May 11, Inner City Press asked Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: on Yemen, did you ever end up getting an answer from OCHA or WHO on the expired medicines that I asked about?

Spokesman:  No, not specifically.  I'm still waiting for something. 
  Back on May 9 Inner City Press asked him again, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: yesterday, I had asked you about the issue of this expired medicine moved from warehouses in Ibb to Taizz.  Do you have any response on that?

Spokesman:  No, not at this point.  We've asked our colleagues at OCHA [Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs] to look into it, and I'm trying to get something. 

On May 8 Inner City Press asked Dujarric for more information, citing (but mis-pronouncing) the work of intrepid journalist Shuaib M. Almosawa, who also facilitated / translated this [annotated] WHO spin: Of the 8 trucks sent to Taiz, four trucks are still being held by health authorities. [the ones carrying the expired medicines but UN won't (yet) admit where they're being held--in Taiz-- and why they're being held?] The World Health Organization  expresses its appreciation for the quality assurance mechanism followed by the Ministry of Health which has helped remove expired medicines." So despite the obfuscations, the expired medicines were removed, by non-WHO parties. Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Dujarric but is still waiting. Watch this site.