Weekly News Update 2 August 2012

Highlights:
Yemen unveils plan to vaccinate all children against rotavirus
The Guardian — 1 August 2012
Yemen has announced plans to vaccinate the 1 million children born in the country each year against the most severe form of diarrrhoea, rotavirus. Rotavirus is often fatal for under-fives. The vaccination campaign is supported by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations (Gavi). Yemen has one of the highest rates of under-five mortality in the world, at 77 deaths for every 1,000 live births. This compares with an average of 41 deaths for every 1,000 live births for the whole of the Middle East and north Africa. Yemen is also the poorest country in the Arabian peninsula. More than 46% of the population live below the poverty line, on less than $2 a day.

Yemen snubs Iranian envoy after uncovering spy ring
Reuters — 31 July 2012
Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi has snubbed a visiting Iranian envoy to signal his “displeasure” with Tehran, a Foreign Ministry official said on Tuesday, only weeks after Yemen said it had uncovered an Iranian-led spy ring in the capital Sanaa. The Iranian envoy was visiting Yemen to invite Hadi to the Non-Aligned Movement’s summit in Tehran in August. “Hadi’s refusal to receive the Iranian envoy was an expression of Sanaa’s displeasure with Tehran’s policy towards Yemen,” a Yemeni Foreign Ministry official told Reuters. The state news agency Saba said on July 18 that Yemen had uncovered a spy ring led by a former commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. The spy ring, which kept an operations centre in Sanaa, had also been operating in the Horn of Africa, the agency said.

Crude arrives at Yemen refinery after 9-month halt
Reuters — 30 July 2012
Yemen delivered its first oil shipment from the Maarib pipeline to its Aden refinery after a nine-month halt that left the poorest Arab country dependent on donations of fuel, an official from the refinery told Reuters. “The first shipment of 85,000 tonnes has been delivered on Saturday night from the Maarib pipeline to the Aden refinery,” the official said, declining to be named under briefing rules.

Economy/Governance:
Mohammed Abdullah Zabarah: “Change needs time.”
Yemen Times — 30 July 2012
Mohammed Abdullah Zabarah, deputy director of the Establishment for Schoolbook Printing Presses, asserted in an interview with the Yemen Times that the problem they face isn’t a lack of schoolbooks but a lack of enough paper. Zabarah said that a new branch with modern machines was opened in the Jader area in Sana’a to speed up the printing of schoolbooks.

Zabid under scrutiny from UNESCO
Yemen Times — 30 July 2012
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) agreed to give Yemen one year to reform the situation in Zabid in order for it remain on the World Heritage List. The Yemen Press website announced that Minister of Education Abdullah Awbal said that his ministry has recently received approval to give Yemen a chance to examine what needs improvement in Zabid within a year.

Electricity plant sabotage suspects shortlisted, says Interior Ministry
Yemen Times — 30 July 2012
The security administration in Sana’a issued directions last week aiming to shortlist all of the saboteurs involved in attacks on the electricity lines in Sana’a governorate in 2011 to 2012, the Interior Ministry has said. The Interior Ministry website said the directions called for prompt preparations for a list of blacklisted individuals accused of storming the power towers; the list will be delivered to the ministry as soon so as possible so that action can be taken.

Modernized finance project unveiled
Yemen Times — 31 July 2012
Last Monday the Finance Ministry presented the “Public Finance Modernization Project,” as well as the Accounting and Financial Management Information System to a huge crowd that included a number of the reconciliation government ministers. AFMIS is an automated system that helps prepare and execute the public budget of the state in addition to issuing the state’s final accounts. The system was first implemented in 2007 in four government ministries. In 2010, the program was expanded to an additional five ministries. The ministries that utilize this system are the Finance Ministry, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Public Works and Highways, Ministry of Public Health and Population, Ministry of Petroleum and Mines, Ministry of Electricity and Energy, Ministry of Water and Irrigation, the Taxes Authority, Customs Authority and the Yemen Central Bank.

Yemen, IFC discuss resuming activities to develop private sector
Saba News — 1 August 2012
Yemen and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank Group have discussed the strategy to resume its tasks in developing private sector in Yemen. During a meeting gathered Minister of Public Works and Roads Omar al-Kurshumi with Principal Country Officer for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) at (IFC) Nada Shousha, the two sides discussed ways of promoting private sector via implementing joint projects in order to contribute in carrying out the infrastructure projects in roads and tunnel areas.

Hunger:
Yemen Battles Hunger While Struggling with Multiple Crises
Voice of America — 29 July 2012
Compounding the problem is a lack of sufficient water and sanitation. Geert Cappelaere, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) country representative for Yemen, says that half the Yemeni population doesn’t have access to clean water supplies or adequate sanitation. “The situation is worsening,” Cappelaere told VOA, “a third of Yemen’s water supplies are not working, as a result of long-term depletion of water resources, drought, poor electricity supplies and disruption of water points, stemming from the continued conflict and lack of maintenance.”

Market shelves are stocked, but Yemenis still starve
Christian Science Monitor — 26 July 2012
A growing sense of desperation echoes within the busy stalls of Bab Mushraf Souq, one of the largest markets in the province’s capital. Farmers bringing their crops to market say that increases in the prices of fuel have tripled the cost of irrigating their drought-stricken fields, leaving many smaller farmers with no choice but to sell their land. Fuel prices have risen as much as 500 percent, while sugar and flour price increases top 50 percent. According to shopkeepers, as much as 75 percent of customers now buy goods on credit because they lack the income to pay in cash, forcing many store owners to take out loans themselves.

With vegetables in high demand; prices skyrocket
Yemen Times — 30 July 2012
Many Yemenis criticized the ministry’s absence in controlling food prices in local markets. They asked how the price of 50 kg of sugar could increase by YR 1,000 in one day. Merchants in Sana’a said the increase comes from the high demands on these substances and the lack of supply made some merchants raise prices. In a meeting of the Yemeni cabinet, the government acknowledged that food prices have increased. The cabinet described the increase saying, “It is because of some unscrupulous traders taking advantage of the need of people for these foods during Ramadan.”

National Dialogue:
Yemenis rally for freedom for detained protesters
AP via USA Today — 28 July 2012
Thousands of Yemenis rallied the capital Sanaa on Saturday, urging authorities to release 117 protesters arrested during the yearlong popular uprising against former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Activist Fathi al-Baadani said the rally is also a protest against the government’s sluggishness to release the detainees despite an order to review their cases and set them free. The delay is due to the fact that Saleh’s followers still hold influential security and military positions, Al-Baadani added.

Politics disguised as religion
Yemen Times — 2 August 2012
Coexistence and the values of sectarian tolerance differ between the Zaidi Shiite sect and the Sunni Muslims. Political speeches have been lined with doctrinal instructions as an attempt to spark off sectarian conflicts and disputes. Wadhah Abdu Al-Bari Taher, a researcher at the Yemeni Center for Studies, said that many religious figures at all levels incite violence, hate and dogmatism.

Human rights organizations condemn violations by Houthis
Yemen Times — 31 July 2012
Human rights organizations demanded on Tuesday the urgent formation of committees to investigate Houthi violations of human rights in Sa’ada. Four young men allegedly tortured by the Houthis were taken to the Science and Technology Hospital on Sunday in a critical condition.

Security:
MP survives assassination attempt in Ibb
Yemen Times — 1 August 2012
Member of Parliament Ali Saleh Qa’asha survived an assassination attempt plotted by armed men in Ibb governorate last Monday. The armed men opened fire on his car which had stopped behind the Al-Fakhama Hotel. A grenade was thrown towards the car as well, though Qa’asha was not in the vehicle. The perpetrators fled the scene on motorcycle with an accompanied car.

Yemen attack kills two, injures three
Reuters — 1 August 2012
Militants attacked a police station in Yemen’s southern city of Jaar late on Tuesday night, killing two policemen and injuring three others, a security official told Reuters on Wednesday. “Two militants riding motor bikes opened fire on a police station in Jaar at around midnight on Tuesday,” the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said.

Yemen arrests suspected Qaeda leader
AFP — 31 July 2012
Yemeni security services have arrested a suspected Al-Qaeda leader, Abdulrahman al-Baihani, wanted for plotting “terrorist’ attacks in the capital, state news agency Saba said Tuesday. The suspect is “one of the most dangerous wanted Al-Qaeda elements and among the prominent leaders plotting to carry out acts of terrorism and sabotage in the capital,” Saba quoted a high-ranking security official as saying.

Yemen security forces retake interior ministry
AFP — 1 August 2012
Yemen’s security forces have regained control of the interior ministry, a top official announced on Wednesday, a day after fighting in the complex killed 15 people. “Forces from the central security services intervened to secure the ministry following orders by Interior Minister Abdelqader Qahtan,” the force commander, General Fadl al-Qawsi said, according to Saba state news agency.

Yemeni gunmen vacate Interior Ministry after protest
Reuters — 30 July 2012
Yemeni tribesmen agreed on Monday to vacate the Interior Ministry after storming it the day before in a protest for jobs, an official said – an incident that highlighted the ongoing turmoil in a country where al Qaeda militancy has alarmed world powers. In a further sign of instability in the Arabian Peninsula country, a security official survived an assassination attempt when a bomb placed under his vehicle was detonated remotely in the southern port city of Aden.

Policemen loyal to ousted Yemeni president storm Interior Ministry building; 15 killed
AP via Washington Post — 31 July 2012
Policemen loyal to Yemen’s ousted leader Ali Abdullah Saleh stormed the country’s Interior Ministry on Tuesday, setting off clashes that left at least 15 people killed and 43 wounded, according to the country’s security operations room. The incident underlined the volatility of the situation in Yemen nearly six months after Saleh stepped down following a popular uprising. It points to the enduring ability of his supporters, many of whom still hold key positions, to cause unrest in one of the Arab world’s poorest nations.

Eight killed in clashes near Yemen Interior Ministry
Reuters — 31 July 2012
Eight people were killed in fighting on Tuesday between Yemeni government forces and armed tribesmen loyal to former leader Ali Abdullah Saleh who were trying to storm the Interior Ministry in the capital Sanaa, a medical source said. Many other people were wounded in what was some of the heaviest fighting in the capital since Saleh signed a deal to relinquish power last year after months of protests against his 33-year rule, the source said.

Yemen vows to track down kidnappers of Italian
Reuters via Chicago Tribune — 30 July 2012
Yemen’s foreign minister has vowed to do everything possible to track down the kidnappers of an Italian embassy security officer and obtain his safe release, state news agency Saba said. Gunmen seized the security officer near the Italian embassy in the capital Sanaa on Sunday, Yemeni security sources told Reuters. No information has been revealed so far on the identity of the kidnappers.

Italian Embassy Guard Abducted in Yemen
New York Times — 30 July 2012
A guard at the Italian Embassy in Yemen was kidnapped on Sunday in broad daylight in the capital, Sana, an official from Italy’s Foreign Ministry said.

Ismailis arrested after 1 dead from suitcase bomb
Yemen Times — 30 July 2012
Five members of the Ismailis sect, living in Haraz district in Sana’a, have been detained on suspicion of killing Ali Majed Al-Dahab, a 14-year-old child, last Friday using an explosive device. Ali Al-Harazi, a merchant in Sana’a and one of the Ismailis, said counter-terrorism forces detained five Ismailis, a child named Nasser Al-Harazi among them, after Ali died from an explosive package meant for his father.

International Community:
Yemen to Hold Consultative Meetings ahead of Donor Meeting
Yemen Post — 27 July 2012
Yemen will hold meetings with donors in the coming days within the technical preparations for the donor meeting scheduled to be held in the Saudi capital Riyadh on September 4, an official at the planning and international cooperation ministry said on Thursday. Mazen Al-Yousfi, director of the cooperation with the Americas and Europe Department, said consultative meetings will be held between the Yemeni authorities and donor representatives to improve coordination for the donor meeting.

Ban confirms appointment of adviser on Yemen, names new enterprise planning official
UN News Centre — 27 July 2012
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today confirmed the appointment of Jamal Benomar as his Special Adviser on Yemen, charged with leading strengthened so-called ‘good offices’ in the Middle Eastern country during its current transition period.

Queen, politicians, Nobel winner named to UN social panel
AFP via Google News — 1 August 2012
Ban has given the panel a year to draw up what he called “a bold” new development vision to put to the 193 UN member states to replace the Millennium Development Goals after 2015. Presidents Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain had already been appointed to head the search. Ban on Tuesday named personalities ranging from Queen Rania of Jordan and German former president Horst Kohler to Tawakel Karman, the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner for her activism in the uprising in Yemen, and the mayor of Istanbul Kadir Topbas.

Youth:
Espionage, political agenda suspected of youths to Iran
Yemen Times — 30 July 2012
Traveling to Iran has become a risky business. Some Yemenis believe anyone who travels to Iran is a spy, said journalist Ali Bin Amer, an employee of Aden Radio. Amer traveled to Iran with a group of young people to study cinema; Iran granted them a 15-day course in the subject.

Initiative aims to better advise the college bound
Yemen Times — 30 July 2012
The Yemen Foundation for Training for the Purpose of Employing inaugurated an initiative called Guide Me My Way that aims to help secondary school graduates choose the right university major. Project organizers launched the initiative because they say youth are unaware of the importance of selecting their majors; no one guides them to choose an appropriate major, which negatively impacts  their scientific and practical levels in the future.

Amendments made to child-related laws
Yemen Times — 1 August 2012
Government institutions and civil society organizations related to children are working to make amendments to laws and legislations with regard to childhood so as to be commensurate with the international agreements and conventions in cooperation with UNICEF. It is expected that the mission will be concluded within three months. Adel Dabwan, the general manager of social defence at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor, said the amendments include many laws and issues in terms of child rights. It is stipulated that children ought to be provided with protection against any kind of manipulation as well as a ban against child soldiery.

Culture:
Yemeni customs and traditions practiced only during Ramadan
Yemen Times — 30 July 2012
Yemenis have a particular taste for Ramadan. They receive this it with numerous customs and habits that aren’t practiced in other months. At the start of Ramadan, people begin to decorate and light their homes and buy different kinds of food. Even children insist on fasting though it is difficult for them because of hunger and thirst.

Increase in Yemeni television programs for Ramadan
Yemen Times — 30 July 2012
Although the budget of these channels is pitiful, Ramadan this year has witnessed a much larger number of programs and series compared to past years. For example, the dramatic series, Haft Al-Ans, broadcast on Al-Saeeda TV channel and uses Adeni slang, has proven very popular and attempts to address negative phenomena in Yemeni society. There is a group of varied programs on many TV channels such as the competition programs named Masabakat (Rivalries) on the Azal TV, Camera in the Village program broadcast on Al-Saeeda  and Sada Al-Qwafi, a competitive poetry program on Yemen TV. There are also many other programs vying for viewers.

Yemenis accuse the MBC channel of scoffing at them
Yemen Times — 2 August 2012
The series ‘Wi-Fi’, broadcasted by MBC TV, has aroused the resentment of Yemenis as some viewers have taken certain scenes to be scoffing at them. The series presented Yemenis as a group of militants who spearhead terror cells and behave stupidly and frivolously.

Religion:
Friday sermons not relevant
Yemen Times — 2 August 2012
Yemenis have been critical of the performance of imams because of the topics they address in Friday sermons. They say that the imams do not address the relevant issues from which residents suffer. Moreover, they don’t discuss new topics in their sermons.

Refugees:
Ethiopians stage protest at refugee camp
Yemen Times — 1 August 2012
Hundreds of Ethiopians living in Kharaz refugee camp peacefully demonstrated in front of the Administration and Accommodation compound on Monday, demanding repatriation back to Ethiopia, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency, UNHCR.  Demonstrators blocked the entrance and exit to the compound, temporarily blocking U.N. staff and their partners from entering or leaving the camp.

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