UN chief: Instruments at hand to probe Khashoggi murder

             By Umar Farooq</p>  <p>WASHINGTON (AA) - UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said Friday the Human Rights Council has the capacity to probe the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.</p>  <p>&quot;The Human Rights Council has the possibility to take decisions in relation to launching different forms of interaction,&quot; Guterres said at a press conference at the UN headquarters in New York. &quot;There are many instruments Human Rights Council can use, requested by member states, and I am not in a position to encourage member states. I'm saying these instruments are available.&quot;</p>  <p>UN Human Rights Chief Michele Bachelet said last month that the killing of Khashoggi deserves an international investigation, however, the UN does not have the jurisdiction to launch one.</p>  <p>Khashoggi, a contributor to The Washington Post, went missing after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.</p>  <p>After producing various contradictory explanations, Riyadh acknowledged he was killed inside the consulate building, blaming the act on a botched rendition operation.</p>  <p>While an investigation and trial was held in Saudi Arabia, the UN said it found the probe insufficient.</p>  <p>In response to a question by Anadolu Agency, the UN chief said he himself also did not have power to launch an investigation into the journalist's murder.</p>  <p>&quot;I don't have the right to launch any investigation, there is a huge confusion about what the Secretary General can and can't do,&quot; Guterres said.</p>  <p>&quot;I do not have the right to launch a criminal investigation myself and no formal criminal investigation was requested to me by any member state,&quot; he added.</p>  <p> *Betul Yuruk contributed to the story from New York 

UN chief backs Turkey's legitimate security concerns

             By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) – Turkey has justifiable security interests in northeastern Syria, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said Friday amid calls for a buffer zone the area.

Guterres said any solution must take into account Syria's territorial integrity, the "legitimate security concerns" of Turkey, and recognition of Syria's diversity.

"These are the three criteria that we have in analyzing any proposal that might eventually exist," Guterres said.

In a Twitter post on Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump proposed the establishment of a 20-mile (32-kilometer) wide safe zone in Syria's eastern Euphrates region. Later, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a phone talk with his U.S. counterpart and evaluated the details of the safe zone.

The proposal will be discussed during an upcoming Russian-Turkish presidential-level meeting, according to Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin.

Libya: 10 killed, 41 wounded in armed clashes

            By Mehmet Nuri Ucar </p>  <p>TRIPOLI (AA) - Ten people were killed and 41 others wounded Thursday in armed clashes in Libya’s capital, according to the Health Ministry.</p>  <p>The confrontation between rival armed groups erupted Wednesday in southern Tripoli, despite a UN-brokered ceasefire that came into effect four months ago.</p>  <p>The ministry said the wounded, including women and children, were transported to various hospitals. </p>  <p>On Sept. 4 last year, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) announced that a ceasefire had been reached after days of bloody street fighting in the capital had left dozens dead.</p>  <p>Libya has remained dogged by turmoil since 2011, when a NATO-backed uprising led to the ouster and death of long-serving President Muammar Gaddafi after more than four decades in power. </p>  <p>Since then, Libya’s stark political divisions have yielded two rival seats of power -- one in Tobruk and another in Tripoli -- and a host of heavily armed militia groups.

Iran warned over health of jailed aid worker, activist

By Ahmet Dursun

ANKARA (AA) – United Nations human rights experts have called on Iran to urgently provide appropriate health care for a jailed British-Iranian aid worker and an Iranian human rights activist.

Aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and activist Narges Mohammadi, suffering from serious illnesses, have been denied proper health care by Iranian officials, said UN experts Wednesday.

"We urge the Government to immediately and unconditionally provide Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Narges Mohammadi with access to the appropriate treatment and care they have repeatedly requested in light of their serious health concerns," said the experts, adding that the denial of proper health care compelled the two women to start a hunger strike in protest.

"The authorities must urgently address the violations that are the basis of their hunger strike protest, including denial of appropriate treatment and care, which may well amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, or even torture," the experts stated.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian dual national, was arrested in 2016 without access to a lawyer and sentenced to five years in prison after being convicted of being a spy for an illegal group.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt had summoned the Iranian ambassador last week to discuss the imprisonment of Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Narges Mohammadi, an Iranian human rights activist was arrested in May 2015 on the charge of 'founding an illegal group'.

UN delivers 27 truckloads of humanitarian aid to Syria

By Cem Genco

HATAY, Turkey (AA) – The United Nations delivered 27 truckloads of humanitarian aid to Syria's northwestern Idlib province, local sources said.

The convoy passed through the Cilvegozu border crossing in Turkey's southern Hatay province, said the sources, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The humanitarian aid will be distributed to people in need in Idlib and its rural areas.

Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in 2011 when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed or displaced in the conflict, mainly by regime airstrikes targeting opposition-held areas.

Germany urges more efforts for peace in Yemen

    By Ayhan Simsek </p>  <p>BERLIN - Germany urged the international community on Wednesday to step up efforts to end the war in Yemen. </p>  <p>“Yemen will face a humanitarian catastrophe if we do not succeed in ending the war,” Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said at an international conference in Berlin. </p>  <p>The conference hosted by the German Foreign Ministry brought together senior officials from 17 countries, including key actors and major donor countries. </p>  <p>UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths and Resident Coordinator of the UN in Yemen Lise Grande also attended. </p>  <p>On Dec. 13, Yemeni peace talks in Sweden concluded with a cease-fire deal in the coastal Al-Hudaydah province.</p>  <p>However, the warring parties have failed to withdraw from the province amid accusations of truce violations, and fighting continued in other parts of the country.</p>  <p>Impoverished Yemen has remained dogged by violence since 2014, when Shia Houthi rebels overran much of the country, including the capital Sanaa.</p> <p><br>

Yemen rivals hold fresh peace talks in Jordan

By Laith Joneidi

AMMAN (AA) – A new round of peace talks between Yemen’s warring rivals kicked off in Jordan on Tuesday to tackle technical issues regarding prisoners exchange between the government and Houthi rebels, a UN spokeswoman said Wednesday.

"The meeting is technical and comes in the framework of following up the implementation of the outcome of peace talks in Sweden,” Hanan al-Badawi, a spokeswoman for UN envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths, told Anadolu Agency.

Participants include officials from the UN and the Red Cross as well as representatives of Yemen’s warring rivals.

On December 13, Yemeni peace talks held in Sweden concluded with a ceasefire deal in the coastal Al-Hudaydah province.

However, the warring parties have failed to withdraw from the province amid accusations of breaching the deal.

Impoverished Yemen has remained dogged by violence since 2014, when the Houthis overran much of the country, including capital Sanaa.

A 3rd of UN workers sexually harassed in 2 years

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) – One-third of UN staffers and contractors said they have been sexually harassed in the past two years, the international body said in a report released late Tuesday evening.

Consulting firm Deloitte carried out the online survey in November, which included responses from over 30,000 people, but that is just 17 percent of those who were sent the electronic questionnaire.

In a letter to UN workers upon the release of the "Safe Space: Survey on Sexual Harassment in our Workplace," Secretary General Antonio Guterres called the response rate "moderately low."

"This tells me two things: first – that we still have a long way to go before we are able to fully and openly discuss sexual harassment; and second – that there may also be an ongoing sense of mistrust, perceptions of inaction and lack of accountability," wrote Guterres.

Roughly 22 percent of those who said they experienced sexual harassment said they were subjected to sexual stories or jokes they found offensive, 14 percent had experienced offensive remarks about their appearance, body or sexual activities, and 13 percent said they were the target of unwanted attempts to draw them into talking about sexual matters.

About 10 percent of people said they were touched in a matter they were uncomfortable with while another 10 percent said they were exposed to sexual gestures or suggestive body language.

Only a third said they took action as a result of experience sexual assault.

The results of the "Safe Space Survey Report," Guterres wrote, "confirm that this issue has a debilitating effect on staff morale and work performance, and that there are continued barriers to reporting, including a fear of retaliation and a perception that perpetrators, for the most part, enjoy impunity."

In all, 10,032 out of the total 30,364 respondents reported an experience of sexual assault.

The UN is expected to brief reporters Wednesday on the report.

Qatar to donate $50 million for Syrian people

            By Serdar Bitmez and Gulsen Topcu</p>  <p>DOHA, Qatar (AA) - Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani has ordered that $50 million be allocated to support Syrian refugees and displaced people, local media reported Tuesday.</p>  <p>According to the Qatar News Agency, the donation will be used for Syrian refugees in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan as well as displaced people within Syria. </p>  <p>It added that the Qatar Development Fund, in coordination with the White Helmets civil defense agency and UN agencies, will be responsible for spending the amount in direct humanitarian relief programs.</p>  <p>Turkey hosts more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees, more than any other country in the world.</p>  <p>Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in 2011 when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.</p>  <p> 

Germany to host international conference on Yemen

                          By Ayhan Simsek </p>    <p>BERLIN (AA) - Germany will host an international meeting on Wednesday to support UN’s peace efforts in Yemen, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has announced.</p>    <p>“After the Stockholm consultations and agreements, Germany has invited international partners and key actors to support UN efforts for peace in Yemen,” Maas said in a statement on Tuesday. </p>    <p>He underlined that the agreement reached between conflict parties during last month’s talks in Stockholm offered a “real window of opportunity” to make further progress.</p>    <p>“We must work to make the international community’s support for the upcoming process as constructive and strong as possible. This includes ensuring that further progress is not impeded by a lack of funds or lengthy administrative processes,” he said. </p>    <p>UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths and Resident Coordinator of the UN in Yemen Lise Grande will attend the conference among other officials, according to the German Foreign Ministry.</p>    <p>On Dec. 13, Yemeni peace talks held in Sweden concluded with a ceasefire deal in the coastal Al-Hudaydah province.</p>    <p>However, the warring parties have failed to withdraw from the province amid accusations of breaching the truce, and fighting continued in other parts of the country.</p>        <p>Impoverished Yemen has remained dogged by violence since 2014, when Shia Houthi rebels overran much of the country, including capital Sanaa.