Alaturka Gazetesi

Yemeni min. urges citizens to come out on streets

By Ammar Elkhalfi and Hamdi Yildiz

MA’RIB, Yemen (AA) – Yemen's State Minister Salah Sayyadi on Sunday urged citizens to come out on the streets and call for the return of their president who fled the country in 2015.

In a post on Facebook, he said Yemen will plunge into a catastrophe unless President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi returns to the country from Saudi Arabia.

“Everyone should do their best to stop Iran's militia in the country and put an end to the coup, ” he said.

Some local activists and media outlets claim that Hadi is being held in the kingdom against his will.

Other reports suggest Hadi had left the country fearing a siege by Houthi rebels of the port city Aden.

Yemen has remained dogged by violence since 2014, when the Shia Houthi militia overran much of the country, including the capital Sanaa.

In 2015, Saudi Arabia and its Sunni-Arab allies launched a massive military campaign aimed at reversing Houthi gains and shoring up Yemen's pro-Saudi government.

Over 10,000 civilians have been killed in the war in Yemen with over eight million at risk of starvation and famine since the Saudi-led coalition imposed a blockade on the country’s main ports.

Alaturka Gazetesi

'Turkey only hope of the oppressed in Syria'

By Lale Koklu

HATAY, Turkey (AA) – Head of the Turkish Red Crescent Kerem Kinik said Turkey was the only hope of the oppressed people in Syria as the world was turning a blind eye to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the war-torn country.

“We are the only hope of these people. We alone have remained behind to bring these people back to life, to help raise their voices, to become their conscience, and to give them their normal lives back,” Kinik told Anadolu Agency in the southern province of Hatay on the Syrian border.

He underlined that Turkish troops in northern Syria had been selflessly endeavoring “to put an end to this crisis “.

The Turkish Red Crescent, along with the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) as well as a number of other aid organizations have all been involved in the humanitarian aspect of Operation Olive Branch since its beginning in the Afrin region in northwestern Syria.

Kinik noted they made a list of the people living in the towns cleared from the terrorists and also determined their needs. They regularly provided humanitarian aid to the people in Afrin in coordination with AFAD and the Turkish military.

Meanwhile, the Turkish Red Crescent has launched a month-long campaign named “the Duty of Compassion ” in order to collect aid from across Turkey and deliver them to the people inside Syria.

– ‘YPG and Syrian regime do not allow exit of civilians’

Kinik emphasized that the Turkish Red Crescent was also involved in an exacting lobbying work at the UN to create safe passages for civilians to leave the conflict zones in Afrin, particularly for the people who wanted to go back to the safe areas in northern Aleppo.

“There are 323,000 people living in Afrin, of whom about 125,000 migrated from the north of Aleppo. These people want to get out of Afrin, they want to return to their old homes in Aleppo. But unfortunately terrorist YPG elements and the Syrian regime do not allow the exit of these civilians. They haven’t opened the roads to Aleppo.

“In fact, the simplest thing to do here is to evacuate the civilians while there is an ongoing fight against terrorist organizations, ” Kinik said. “But the parties Turkey has been fighting do not allow the civilians in the region to leave, because they want to use them as human shields. ”

Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20 to clear the YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin, northwestern Syria, and to establish security and stability along Turkey’s borders and the region.

The operation also aims to protect Syrians from terrorist oppression and cruelty, the Turkish military has repeatedly stated, adding that only terror targets are being destroyed and that “utmost care ” is being shown to avoid harming civilians.

– ‘The world has closed its eyes’

Mentioning the ongoing attacks on civilians in Syria, particularly in the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta, Kinik noted that the world had closed its eyes and was doing nothing to stop the humanitarian catastrophe.

“The world has closed its eyes and it no longer cares about the increase of the sufferings there [in Syria]. In the last month, around 1,000 civilians have been killed in Ghouta, among them 200 children and 200 women, ” he added.

He said there were about 12 million people in Syria in need of aid.

“Turkey is the only hope of these people.”

Eastern Ghouta has been under siege for the last five years, and humanitarian access to the area, which is home to some 400,000 people, has been completely cut off.

In the past eight months, Bashar al-Assad regime forces have intensified their siege on the region, making it nearly impossible for food or medicine to get into the district and leaving thousands of patients in need of treatment.

Hundreds have been killed by regime airstrikes in recent days.

Syria has been locked in a devastating civil war since March 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.

Although Syrian regime officials claim that the death toll in Syria is close to 10,000, UN officials say hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict so far.

Alaturka Gazetesi

Hamas denies US accusations on Gaza misery

By Nour Abu Aisha

GAZA CITY, Palestine (AA) – Palestinian resistance group Hamas has dismissed U.S. accusations for the group of causing a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

Earlier this month, Jason Greenblatt, U.S. President Donald Trump's special representative for international negotiations, blamed Hamas for causing “misery ” to Gaza's people by choosing “to increase violence”.

“We reject the White House allegations that Hamas was responsible for Gaza’s aggravating humanitarian crisis,” Hamas said in a statement on Sunday.

It described the U.S. accusations as a “green light for the Israeli occupation to continue its aggressive approach against the Palestinian people. ”

Hamas blamed Israel’s decade-long blockade on the seaside strip for “Gaza’s humanitarian catastrophe”, which, it says, has been imposed with “a public U.S. support”.

It went on to hold “successive U.S. administrations responsible for the tragedies that have plagued the Palestinian people since the beginning of the occupation”.

Home to nearly two million people, Gaza has been reeling under a decade-long siege that has badly affected livelihood in the Palestinian territory.

“The U.S. ignored throughout the history of the [Arab-Israeli] conflict the right of the Palestinian people to live in security and peace on their land, ” Hamas said.

The Palestinian group said Trump was seeking to tighten up the blockade with a view to “bringing our people and political forces to their knees for imposing solutions that aim at liquidating their cause”.

Last month, the U.S. Treasury Department placed Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh on its terror list.

The U.S. move came amid intense tension with the Palestinians after Trump's decision on Dec. 6 to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to cut some $65 million in U.S. aid to the Palestinians.

Alaturka Gazetesi

France to discuss Syrian crisis at UN meeting

By Tugrul Cam

ANKARA (AA) – France said Monday it has called a UN Security Council meeting to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Syria.

In a note to member states of the Security Council, the permanent mission of France to the UN said it wants to “bring the humanitarian crisis in Syria to the light, and to discuss the latest developments in the area”.

The note added that France had not called for a separate emergency meeting at the Security Council but wanted to discuss it as a usual topic on the agenda.

On Sunday, France called for an emergency meeting of the Security Council on Syria.

It is evident from the contents of the note that Turkey’s operation in Syria will not be discussed at the meeting.

Separately on Sunday, the French Embassy in Turkey tweeted: “France will stress in particular the urgency of ensuring humanitarian access.”

Turkey on Saturday launched Operation Olive Branch to remove PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Syria's northern Afrin district.

According to Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkish borders and the region as well as to protect the Syrian people from the oppression and cruelty of terrorists.

The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law, UN Security Council’s decisions, self-defense rights under the UN charter and respect to Syria's territorial integrity, it said.

The military also said the “utmost importance ” was being given to not harm any civilian.

Afrin has been a major hideout for the PYD/PKK since July 2012 when the Assad regime in Syria left the city to the terror group without putting up a fight.

Alaturka Gazetesi

Germany calls for humanitarian access to Eastern Ghouta

By Ayhan Simsek

BERLIN (AA) – Germany has called for urgent humanitarian access to the Syrian enclave of Eastern Ghouta amid worsening conditions for around 400,000 civilians trapped in the region besieged by Assad forces.

“We are deeply worried about the disastrous humanitarian situation in Eastern Ghouta,” Germany’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Monday.

It also condemned recent airstrikes by regime forces.

“We are condemning the attacks and the continued siege in Eastern Ghouta and are calling for the implementation of the Astana agreements with immediate effect, ensuring humanitarian access to the de-escalation zones,” the statement said.

Germany has accused Assad regime forces of using starvation tactics against civilians as well as bombing hospitals and schools in Eastern Ghouta.

“The urgent medical evacuations must be allowed immediately. This is an obligation particularly for Russia, which is a supporter of the al-Assad regime and a guarantor of the Astana Principles,” the ministry said.

Home to some 400,000 civilians, Eastern Ghouta has been under siege by regime forces since December 2012.

The besieged area falls within a network of de-escalation zones set up in Syria by Turkey, Russia and Iran in which acts of aggression are forbidden.

Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.

Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced, according to UN officials.

Alaturka Gazetesi

Civilians evacuated from Aleppo long for their hometown

By Burak Karacaoğlu and Esref Musa

IDLIB (AA) – The civilians who were evacuated from Aleppo, and took shelter in the camps built in Idlib, which is near the Turkish-Syria borders, continue their lives hoping to return back to Aleppo.

The residents of Nour camp, which is backed by local aid organizations, told an Anadolu Agency reporter on Sunday how much they missed their hometown on the first anniversary of their evacuation.

“After the siege that continued for months, we were forced to leave Aleppo. But, we will go back. I lost my house. It is my homeland where I grew up and raised my children, I will never give up on Aleppo, ” Ahmad Dado, one of the camp residents, told Anadolu Agency.

Noting that no aid had been dispatched to the camp for a couple of months, “Our children would enjoy the aids sent to our camp, but they no longer smile. We were under Assad siege in Aleppo; in Idlib, we are sieged by hunger, ” he said.

Halid Deruzi (56) also emphasized that he wanted to return to Aleppo as soon as possible.

“I hope that we will return to Aleppo where we lived our good and bad days, where we drank salty water and spoiled bread. I want to go back to the place where I was born and raised and our Prophet prayed for, ” he said, referring to Prophet Muhammad.

“I want to go back to Aleppo, which is my love and where my two sons were martyred, ” he said.

Faize Idris, who lost her two children during the Aleppo siege, accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad saying: “I raised my two children facing great difficulties, but Assad killed them both. Once Aleppo is liberated, we will come back home. I could live in a tent as long as it is located in Aleppo. ”

In 2016, the Bashar Assad regime kept eastern Aleppo, where 300,000 civilians were trapped, under siege for four months. The siege prompted the greatest humanitarian crisis in the Syrian civil war, but was ended after a ceasefire agreement led by Turkey brokered on December 13th.

Evacuations came after Ankara and Moscow came to a deal on evacuating the local population. Evacuations emerged between December 15th and 22nd.

Afterwards, some 45,000 civilians from Aleppo settled in the Idlib camps, which is near the Turkish border and controlled by the opposition forces.

Alaturka Gazetesi

Africa’s humanitarian crises worsen: UN

By Addis Getachew

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AA) – Africa’s humanitarian crises have continued to worsen in 2017, said a report released by the United Nations on Wednesday ahead of the World Humanitarian Day.

“Twenty million Africans have been displaced from their homes and 44 million are acutely food insecure,” the report stated.

It said the population displacement crisis has reached record levels with over 20 million Africans now officially registered as refugees, internally displaced, or seeking asylum.

Almost 75 percent of the continent’s displaced persons were from 5 countries; namely the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Sudan — the countries that are experiencing conflicts.

“While global attention has focused on refugees, almost two-thirds of Africa’s dislocated population are internally displaced,” it said.

The number of internally displaced people –12.7 million — represent a 65 percent increase since 2013.

“More than 44 million Africans are estimated to be at a crisis or emergency level of food insecurity. Parts of Nigeria, Somalia, and South Sudan are at risk of famine,” the report revealed.

It further stated that 51 humanitarian workers have been killed last year in the Central African Republic, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Somalia, and South Sudan.

The report listed the top ten countries in terms of population displacement; Sudan, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Nigeria, Central African Republic, Eritrea, Burundi, Ethiopia and Ivory Coast.

Alaturka Gazetesi

Mosul refugee numbers mount amid humanitarian crisis

By Ali Jawad

NINEVEH, Iraq (AA) – An Iraqi relief official has warned of the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation at refugee camps amid a surge in the number of civilians fleeing western Mosul, where Iraqi forces are fighting to dislodge Daesh terrorists from the area.

“The humanitarian situation for refugees from western Mosul is worsening,” Iyad Rafed of the Iraqi Red Crescent Society told Anadolu Agency on Monday.

“The number of refugees fleeing the fighting continues to mount,” he said. “Rains and bad weather are aggravating the situation.”

In mid-February, Iraqi forces — backed by a U.S.-led air coalition — began fresh operations aimed at ousting Daesh from western Mosul, their last stronghold in the northern city.

The offensive is part of a wider campaign launched last October to retake the entire city, which Daesh overran in mid-2014.

According to Iraq’s Migration Ministry, a total of 355,000 civilians have fled Mosul since last October.

In a Monday statement, the ministry said that some 181,000 refugees had fled from the western side of Mosul alone.

It went on to note that some 81,000 of these had since returned to their homes in areas of the city recently “liberated” by Iraqi forces.

According to Rafed, the process of transferring refugees to camps near Mosul frequently faces delays.

“There is no room for more refugees at the Hammam al-Alil displacement camp southeast of Mosul, which currently houses 4,000 families,” he said.

The UN now expects the exodus of another 400,000 people from western Mosul as a result of the army’s ongoing anti-Daesh offensive in the city.

Last week, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq Lise Grande warned that the UN lacked sufficient resources to contain the anticipated exodus.

“The number of people [fleeing the city] is higher than expected,” Grande told journalists in New York via videoconference from Iraq.

“If the pace accelerates further,” she said, “it’s going to stretch us to the breaking point.”

In a related development Monday, six foreign Daesh leaders were reportedly killed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in western Mosul, according to the Iraqi Defense Ministry.

In mid-2014, Daesh overran vast swathes of territory in both northern and western Iraq, including Mosul.

Alaturka Gazetesi

Regime push in Aleppo won’t end conflict: German FM

BERLIN (AA) – Syrian regime hopes that the country’s conflict could be ended through a major military offensive in eastern Aleppo are futile, Germany’s foreign minister said Tuesday.

Speaking at the annual Berlin Foreign Policy Forum, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the Bashar al-Assad regime is trying to exploit a political vacuum in the wake of Donald Trump’s U.S. election victory by stepping up its military offensive in eastern Aleppo.

“The regime hopes that a victory in eastern Aleppo would be decisive for the whole conflict. I do not share this opinion,” Steinmeier said.

“As so many neighbors and regional actors are involved, this conflict would not come to an end, irrespective of what will be achieved now militarily in eastern Aleppo,” he stressed.

Since mid-November, more than 600 civilians have been killed – and hundreds more injured – in regime attacks on eastern Aleppo.

Decrying the “catastrophic” humanitarian situation, Steinmeier called for international efforts to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to the besieged neighborhoods of eastern Aleppo within the next few days.

The top German diplomat said he will travel to Minsk later today for talks on the Ukrainian crisis, adding that during bilateral meeting with his Russian counterpart, he will also raise the issue of the humanitarian crisis in eastern Aleppo.

Syrian regime forces have recently stepped up their attacks on opposition-held parts of eastern Aleppo in an effort to retake the city and advance on Idlib, one of the Syrian opposition’s last strongholds.

The fierce bombardments have forced hospitals and other medical facilities in the war-battered city to cease operations, while most academic activities have come to a complete stop.

Syria has been locked in a devastating civil war since early 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests – which erupted as part of the Arab Spring uprisings – with unexpected ferocity.

Since then, hundreds of thousands of people are believed to have been killed and millions more displaced by the conflict.