We are hoping to bring aid to the people of Yemen who are enduring a horrendous attack from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Just yesterday, we heard reports that the Saudi regime is using “White Phosphorous” in civilian areas in Yemen. “White Phosphorous” is a chemical weapon in the form of a white powder that burns human flesh on contact.
The rate of civilian deaths in Yemen is particularly high. The Saudi bombs have killed very few combatants. The overwhelming majority of those who have been killed, over three thousand so far, have been civilians.
Meanwhile, the United States is not just backing and arming Saudi Arabia, but it has actively been refueling the Saudi bombers. The US military is filling up the fuel tanks of the airplanes which are conducting the bombing raids, targeting schools, hospitals and civilian infrastructure.
If international law were fairly enforced, leaders of not just Saudi Arabia but also the United States would face charges of war crimes for these extremely immoral actions. So much blood is on their hands.
Yemen, a country that has not attack anyone, is having the most expensive tools of destruction unleashed on it. Yemen is the poorest country in the middle east, and it is being attacked by the US-backed Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the autocratic country with the fourth largest military budget in the entire world.
Angélique Namaika is a Roman Catholic Augustine Sisters of Dungu and Doruma nun from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Sister Angélique has been working in the Congo since 2008 to assist women and girls who have been abused by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). She is the 2013 recipient of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ Nansen Refugee Award for her work with Congolese refugee women. Her Centre for Reintegration and Development is locate in Dungu, Orientale Province in the northeast of the DRC. Dungu has been the center for international humanitarian efforts for women and children who have been displaced by violence and war in the area.
Construction Mechanic Constructionman Kyle Thoms, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5, uses a plasma cutter to a cut piece of steel. NMCB 5 is deployed to Japan and several countries in the Pacific area of responsibility, conducting construction operations and humanitarian assistance projects.
The Saudi-led attack on Yemen has been
relentless for more than a month. Despite promises from the Saudis of a
new “political” phase to the struggle, the bombing campaign has
continued. The Red Cross said recently that Yemen’s humanitarian
situation is now “catastrophic.”
According to the United Nations, the bombing campaign has caused the deaths of more than 1,000 people, of whom an estimated 551 are civilians. At least 115 of these victims were children, UNICEF said.
Aside from the wanton killing of Yemeni civilians, the main Saudi
achievement to date has been to empower the Yemeni branch of al-Qaeda,
al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Its actions may have even allowed the
“Islamic State” to establish itself in Yemen.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has now expanded its areas of control in the country, with several ports falling to the group
under the protection of the Saudi bombing campaign. Although ostensibly
foes, the Saudis are now in a de facto alliance with al-Qaeda in Yemen,
much as they are in Syria.
The main Saudi goal of dislodging the insurgent Houthi movement has
failed as well. The Houthis remain more determined than ever to have
their say in the future of the country.
The fundamental problem that the Saudis and their reactionary Gulf allies
face is that, despite all the cant and rhetoric about supposed “Iranian
meddling” in Yemen, the Houthis are Yemenis. They are mostly Arabs, not
Iranians, and are native to the country. They are not foreign invaders;
the movement represents a historically marginalized community that
wants a say in how their country is run.
The headlines about Yemen in the Western media, such as they are,
constantly shriek about how the Houthis are an “Iranian-backed” group.
This is true in a very limited sense, but it obscures the more
fundamental point that the minority Zaydi religious community that the
Houthi movement represents — and which has important differences with
the version of Shiism observed by the Iranian government — is indigenous
to the country and cannot be dislodged by any bombing campaign. Recent reports about the Saudis training tribal fighters to combat the Houthis on the ground suggest the Saudis realize this.
The Houthis simply cannot be reduced to an Iranian proxy. Last year, for example, the Iranians discouraged
the Houthis from taking over Yemen’s capital, Sana’a. They went ahead
and claimed it anyway, giving them more leverage in the political
negotiations that followed.
So if Iranian influence isn’t the overriding factor, what is really
behind the Saudi war on Yemen? The former United Nations envoy to Yemen,
who was responsible for negotiations in the country until recently, revealed
that the warring factions were on the brink of a power-sharing deal
just before the war began. The Saudi-led war on the country aborted
As Jamal Benomar told the Wall Street Journal, “When
this campaign started, one thing that was significant but went
unnoticed is that the Yemenis were close to a deal that would institute
power-sharing with all sides, including the Houthis.”
The Houthis were even willing to allow Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to
stay on as part of a presidential council that would have replaced the
role of the presidency as an interim measure. As the Zaydis are a
minority religious community, the Houthi movement did not want to rule
the country, but did want assurances they would have representation in
the power-sharing deal.
According to an anonymous diplomat speaking to the Wall Street Journal,
“the Saudis also intervened to prevent a power-sharing deal that would
include the Houthis and that would give 30% of the cabinet and
parliament to women.”
Hadi, on the other hand, came to power in an election in which he was the only candidate.
Something that looks like it may ultimately lead to anything
resembling democracy in the region is considered a threat to the Saudi
dictatorship, its Gulf allies, and the United States. They’ll continue
to block any attempt at a political solution to the crisis in Yemen,
costing thousands of lives in the process.
It was not in our plans to suspend the unilateral and indefinite cease-fire proclaimed on December 20, 2014 as a humanitarian gesture of de-escalation of the conflict, but the inconsistency of the Santos government has done so, after five months of attacks on the ground and in the air against our structures throughout the country.
We deplore the joint attack of the Air Force, the army and the police carried out at dawn on Thursday against a camp of the 29 Front of the FARC in Guapi (Cauca), during which, according to official sources, 26 guerrilla combatants were killed.
For us, the deaths of guerrilla combatants and soldiers are equally painful; they are children of the same nation and from poor families. We must stop this bleeding.
Against our will, we have to continue the talks in the midst of the confrontation. Although Santos announces that he will keep the offensive, we insist on the need to agree, as soon as possible, to the health of the peace process and to prevent further victimization, on a bilateral ceasefire, insistently claimed by national majorities.
We appreciate the work of monitoring and verification of the unilateral ceasefire that was carried out by the Broad Front for Peace and the social and political movements of Colombia during these five months.
Secretariat of the Central High Command of the FARC-EP
Foreign Secretary William Hague marks World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day by commending ‘tireless dedication and bravery’ of ICRC staff and volunteers.
This year marks 150 years of humanitarian action by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Across the world their staff and volunteers are saving lives and helping the most vulnerable communities. They are working in the most difficult and dangerous environments delivering assistance in times of conflict and natural disaster. And in those areas of greatest insecurity, where other organisations and states often cannot reach, they face the daily threat of violence in order to carry out their humanitarian mission.
As events around the world all too regularly remind us this work remains as vital as it has ever been. Today is an important opportunity to recognise their outstanding contribution, including that of the British Red Cross here in the UK. I commend their tireless dedication and bravery and I would remind those who bear arms in conflict, on all sides, to respect and protect the neutrality of those who work under the Red Cross, Red Crescent and Red Crystal symbols.
“I just had the privilege of passing this gift on. I hope for people to see and become more open-minded about what these organizations do, and in the same way, for us to be more grateful with the opportunities that we have.”
Roxy Pro runner-up Bianca Buitendag took the $25k purse she won on the Gold Coast and paid it forward… all of it. She split her winnings between three non-profit organizations in South Africa. Aleph Surf International is a Cape Town organization that uses surfing, the arts and employment opportunities to enrich the lives of those in need in the community. The Healthy Mom and Baby Clinic provides professional private medical care to underprivileged women and children in J-Bay, ranging from prenatal medical care and youth nutrition education, to a mobile clinic and baby safe. Life Community Services. The group helps a wide range of people in the area, from at-risk youth to homeless adults, and it is run by a very hands-on CEO. “The lady that runs it, Aunty Maryna DeVries, puts up massive tents in the townships and feeds, clothes, and teaches so many children,” said Bianca. “She gets in the back of a car and drives around, handing out soup to people.”
“He’s one of forty million refugees worldwide who’ve been forced to flee their home. I can’t imagine what it’s like to not feel safe in my own home, or to be attacked here. But, what I can do is help Mathieu’s voice be heard, and so can you. So, please, share this video, share this story. And help Mathieu and any like them to have a louder voice.” -Charlie Cox for the International Rescue Committee UK
In October 2001, when bombs started dropping, the military also dropped aid packages. Humanitarianism as a concept died during that mash-up between aid and the military. The military builds schools so they look like humanitarians. Meanwhile, humanitarian organisations were more interested in keeping the donor money flowing than serving the Afghan people, though there were some exceptions.
I came to realise to what extent neo-liberal agendas are part of the aid industry, and thus also of the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Neo-liberal agendas are fundamentally changing what it means to be a widow. Afghans would suddenly say things to widows like, “why don’t they go and work?” I had never seen this before in Afghanistan. It is because programmes for gender-mainstreaming were focussed on jobs. The only concept of helping widows was making them work. Of course there were widows who wanted to work, saying it kept them busy, etc. But if this is the only form of care you are going to get, it fundamentally alters so much, and it’s ultimately a neo-liberal, neoconservative agenda — while social institutions like Islamic charity are being rendered irrelevant and/or suspect. In America, it’s greatly problematic and everywhere else too, but here is a country that has been subjected to serial war. There are ultimately very few programmes that reflect any understanding of how to implement projects to people who have been subjected to serial war, and that coincide with sensibilities of people who consider themselves to be Muslims.
Donors insist that in order to improve the country, Afghans need to be productive in a market economy — but wouldn’t it be more productive if there was no war? You are telling Afghans to be productive as if they wouldn’t know how to. They have survived and managed against all odds, which I would certainly consider productive (many people in other parts of the world would not be able to manage or even relate to this).
Aid workers are implementing a five-million dollar gender programme but unable to meet Afghan women — other than the woman who serves tea, due to security protocols. Many international aid organisations wanted to primarily employ women, even if less qualified, to encourage gender equality. Yet, for an Afghan woman to work in an office staffed with males sparked suspicion and created tensions in many families. People who make these programmes are clueless about the dynamics in Afghan families — many brothers are suspicious as only their sisters are “targeted” for employment by international gender equality initiatives. Donors are only interested in the numbers of women employed, little else.
Many activists were tempted by attractive international salaries, and work according to the agenda of the occupation. I don’t blame them, but there is no indigenous Afghan feminist movement any more. Similar with the few academics (Afghans and otherwise), anthropologists are working for the U.S. state, and others, as policymakers. The money is certainly lucrative but Afghanistan lost its scholars, and there is little to no effort to produce more. It certainly is overwhelming. Liberal humanitarianism exists in the form of Fulbright scholarships to talented Afghans and supports study in the U.S., yet it creates more neo-liberal policy bureaucrats. They will not be Afghan intellectuals, they will be neo-liberal bureaucrats.
“Far from being altruistic, ‘celebrity humanitarianism’ is significantly contaminated and ideological: it is most often self-serving, helping to promote institutional aggrandizement and the celebrity ‘brand’; it advances consumerism and corporate capitalism, and rationalizes the very global inequality it seeks to redress; it is fundamentally depoliticizing, despite its pretensions to ‘activism’; and it contributes to a ‘postdemocratic’ political landscape, which appears outwardly open and consensual, but is in fact managed by unaccountable elites.”
“One two-year-old boy, who had been brought in three days before, is being fed by a tube through his nose because he can’t take any milk down his throat. Both hands are bandaged so he can’t rip it out – he had twice before. He stares at us with streaming eyes, defiance in his tiny frame. Flies buzz around everywhere.“[x] — Diary of Keira Knightley, 30 March UNICEF UK Soccer Aid 2012
In a country where people are already struggling, refugees and migrants have become “invisible” to much of Greek society. Thousands have been arrested and imprisoned in detention centers where they live in appalling conditions with little or no access to medical care. Most of the migrants who come through northern Greece’s Evros region are from Afghanistan, like these children, while others come from Pakistan, Syria, Bangladesh and Somalia. A Doctors Without Borders emergency team has been working at three border police stations where migrants are received and at the Filakio detention center, where many are detained. Read more: http://bit.ly/19InPQT
The latest technology is frequently only accessible to large companies and wealthy enthusiasts — those who can afford the high cost of groundbreaking products. Often devices, such as 3D printers and drones, could have a huge positive impact on underprivileged people and areas, but the cost proves to be prohibitive. We have already seen numerous enterprises designed to help bridge this gap — such as E-Nable, which connects 3D printing enthusiasts with those in need of prosthetic hands. The latest of these “bridging” initiatives is UAViators — a humanitarian UAV network — which signs up experienced drone operators who would be willing to provide disaster relief. READ MORE…