Displacement in Yemen Decreases

Yemenis wait while carrying their bowls to get free food provided by a charity kitchen at a displaced camp in Sanaa. (EPA)
Yemenis wait while carrying their bowls to get free food provided by a charity kitchen at a displaced camp in Sanaa. (EPA)
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Displacement in Yemen Decreases

Yemenis wait while carrying their bowls to get free food provided by a charity kitchen at a displaced camp in Sanaa. (EPA)
Yemenis wait while carrying their bowls to get free food provided by a charity kitchen at a displaced camp in Sanaa. (EPA)

Internal displacement in Yemen decreased by 76 percent compared to the pre-truce period, according to UN data.

The truce has been active for 17 months.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that currently neither war nor peace prevails in Yemen.

“Displacement decreased by 76 percent during the months of the truce,” according to OCHA.

As the Houthis continue to hinder peace efforts, the UN affirmed that “the cost of the minimum household expenditures basket rose by over 50 percent in the space of a single year. In the absence of a comprehensive political settlement, continued displacement, the economic situation, and lack of capacity of state institutions, are likely to remain a key driver of needs.”

“An estimated 4.5 million people—14 percent of the population—are currently displaced, most of whom have been displaced multiple times over a number of years... Natural disasters and climate-induced events, such as drought and flooding, are also key drivers of displacement and have heightened existing needs,” said the UN.

“Many IDPs in Yemen live in flood-prone areas or dangerous locations.”

“Continuing protracted displacement even with lower rates of new displacement may well ensure Yemen remains among the top six largest internal displacements in the world.”

“Throughout 2023, humanitarian needs are likely to hold steady and the resilience of vulnerable populations to decrease as a result of the ongoing breakdown of basic services and the fragility of Yemen’s economy due to macroeconomic instability and the depreciation of the Yemeni Rial (YER), the de facto separation of economic institutions and issuance of competing monetary policies, low household purchasing power, inflation and high prices of food, fuel, and other essential commodities.”

“An estimated 5.4 million - 25 percent - of the people in need across Yemen are affected by access constraints. Access challenges are most prevalent in northwest Yemen, where they are largely bureaucratic impediments.”

These areas are ruled by the Houthis.

“At the same time increasing security issues (such as carjackings, kidnappings, and other forms of violence) have been registered particularly across areas primarily under the control of the internationally recognized Government of Yemen (GoY).”

“The vast majority of access constraints are issues related to bureaucratic impediments, which mainly include denials of movement and delays of travel permits. Bureaucratic impediments include two key challenges on the rise into 2023.”

The first is the increasing imposition of mahram requirements primarily by the Houthis, whereby women must be accompanied by a close male family member to travel.

“This has impacted female national staff traveling on field missions, leading to the delay and cancellation of field visits, needs assessments, and life-saving assistance deliveries. It likewise has had a major impact on the access of women to essential services, education, and livelihoods opportunities.

The second is long delays in approval of sub-agreements, leading regularly to delayed implementation of urgently required humanitarian projects and services for the better part of a year.”

The Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan 2023 report added that “access challenges remain the most important challenge to effective humanitarian action in Yemen. As such, coordinated action to safeguard operational space and ensure safe, unimpeded, and principled access will be a cornerstone of the response in 2023.”

“Clusters are targeting only the most vulnerable people in need through highly prioritized planning and humanitarian actors are increasingly implementing integrated programs to improve quality and efficiencies of response.

However, the per unit price of activities has increased in eight out of ten clusters, due to high global supply chain costs, rises in commodity prices, the continued fragility of Yemen’s economy, and access impediments. These factors have driven overall funding requirements upwards despite a decrease in the number of people targeted, compared to 2022.”



Palestinian Media Says at Least 50 Killed in Israeli Air Strike in North Gaza

 An explosion takes place during Israeli air strikes over Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, December 4, 2023. (Reuters)
An explosion takes place during Israeli air strikes over Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, December 4, 2023. (Reuters)
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Palestinian Media Says at Least 50 Killed in Israeli Air Strike in North Gaza

 An explosion takes place during Israeli air strikes over Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, December 4, 2023. (Reuters)
An explosion takes place during Israeli air strikes over Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, December 4, 2023. (Reuters)

The official Palestinian news agency said at least 50 people were killed on Monday in an Israeli air strike that hit two schools sheltering displaced people in the north of the Gaza Strip.

The reported attack took place as Israeli bombs also rained down on southern areas of the enclave and Israeli troops and tanks pressed a ground campaign against Hamas militants in that sector.

The strike hit the Daraj neighborhood in Gaza City, the WAFA agency said. It was not immediately possible to verify the report independently, and a spokesperson for the Israeli army said it was looking into the report.

It came as Gaza's health ministry said that at least 15,899 Palestinians, 70% of them women or under 18s, have now been killed in Israeli air and artillery strikes on the enclave since Oct. 7. Thousands more are missing and feared buried in rubble.

Earlier on Monday, Israel ordered Palestinians to leave parts of Gaza's main southern city, Khan Younis. But residents said that areas which they had been told to go to were also coming under fire.

Israel's military posted a map on social media platform X on Monday morning with around a quarter of Khan Younis marked off in yellow as territory that must be evacuated at once.

Three arrows pointed south and west, telling people to head towards the Mediterranean coast and towards Rafah, a major town near the Egyptian border.

Desperate Gazans in Khan Younis packed their belongings and headed towards Rafah. Most were on foot, walking past ruined buildings in a solemn and silent procession.

But the head of the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees in Gaza (UNWRA), Thomas White, said people in Rafah were themselves being forced to flee.

"People are pleading for advice on where to find safety. We have nothing to tell them," he said on X.

Israel launched its assault to wipe out Hamas, which rules Gaza, in retaliation for an Oct. 7 cross-border attack by its gunmen. They killed 1,200 people and seized 240 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.


Global Journalist Group Says Israel-Hamas Conflict Is a War beyond Compare for Media Deaths

Palestinians gather at the site of an Israeli strike, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, December 4, 2023. (Reuters)
Palestinians gather at the site of an Israeli strike, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, December 4, 2023. (Reuters)
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Global Journalist Group Says Israel-Hamas Conflict Is a War beyond Compare for Media Deaths

Palestinians gather at the site of an Israeli strike, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, December 4, 2023. (Reuters)
Palestinians gather at the site of an Israeli strike, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, December 4, 2023. (Reuters)

With a journalist or media worker killed every day on average in the Israel-Hamas war, the head of the global organization representing the profession said Monday that it has become a conflict beyond compare.

About 60 have been killed since the Oct. 7 start of the war, already close to the same number of journalists killed during the entire Vietnam War half a century ago. Other brutal wars in the Middle East have not come close to the intensity of the current one.

"In a war, you know, a classical war, I can say that in Syria, in Iraq, in ex-Yugoslavia, we didn’t see this kind of massacre," Anthony Bellanger, the general secretary of the International Federation of Journalists, told The Associated Press.

And since the end of the weeklong ceasefire in Gaza on Friday, the misery has continued, he said: "Unfortunately, we received the bad news this weekend — after the end of this ceasefire — and at least three or four were killed."

Bellanger said they are mourning around 60 journalists, including at least 51 Palestinian ones and also Israeli and Lebanese. Most were killed during Israel’s bombardment in the Gaza Strip. He said Israeli journalists were also killed during Hamas’ attack in southern Israel that set off the war.

He said those numbers are based on all available sources that the federation uses for its annual report.

Along with the human toll, the premises of many media organizations in Gaza have been destroyed, he said. He estimated there were about 1,000 journalists and media workers in Gaza before the conflict and said that now, no one can get out.

And yet amid the rubble, local journalists continue to do their job, said Nasser Abu Baker, president of the Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate.

"They lost their families and they continue their work," he said. "They are without houses and they continue their work. ... Without food, without the security for them, without their families. Also, if their families are still alive, they are not with their families because they are living or sleeping in the hospitals."

Bellanger said Israeli authorities were not responsive.

"I called the Israeli government, but they didn’t reply. And when I went to Palestine a few days ago, I proposed to the government press office to have a meeting, just to have a follow-up about this call. But nobody replies," he said.

Israel has said it makes every effort to avoid killing civilians and accuses Hamas of putting them at risk by operating in residential areas.

The IFJ and Reporters Without Borders have called on International Criminal Court prosecutors to investigate the deaths of journalists and media workers, and ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan has visited the area.

The ICC’s prosecution office is already investigating the actions of Israeli and Palestinian authorities dating back to the Israel-Hamas war in 2014. The probe can also consider allegations of crimes committed during the current war.

Khan has called on Israel to respect international law but stopped short of accusing the country of war crimes. He called Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack a serious violation of international humanitarian law.

Israel argues the ICC has no jurisdiction in the conflict because the Palestinian territories are not an independent sovereign state. Israel isn’t a party to the treaty that underpins the ICC and is not one of its 123 member states.

Bellanger didn't see sudden change on the ground coming soon but said that as the chief of the global journalism network, "I don’t have the right to be pessimistic."


WHO Board to Hold Emergency Meeting on Gaza Health Situation

Displaced Palestinians who fled from Khan Yunis, sit outside makeshift shelters at a camp in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on December 4, 2023, amid continuing battles between Israel and the militant group Hamas. (AFP)
Displaced Palestinians who fled from Khan Yunis, sit outside makeshift shelters at a camp in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on December 4, 2023, amid continuing battles between Israel and the militant group Hamas. (AFP)
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WHO Board to Hold Emergency Meeting on Gaza Health Situation

Displaced Palestinians who fled from Khan Yunis, sit outside makeshift shelters at a camp in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on December 4, 2023, amid continuing battles between Israel and the militant group Hamas. (AFP)
Displaced Palestinians who fled from Khan Yunis, sit outside makeshift shelters at a camp in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on December 4, 2023, amid continuing battles between Israel and the militant group Hamas. (AFP)

The World Health Organization's executive board will hold an emergency session on Dec. 10 to discuss the health crisis in Gaza and the West Bank, with the Palestinian envoy seeking more medical aid and access for foreign healthcare workers.

The WHO confirmed on Monday it had received a request from 15 countries to hold the session, which will be convened by Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in consultation with the Qatari chair.

The Palestinian ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Ibrahim Khraishi, said the meeting would focus mostly on Gaza, engulfed by war between its Hamas rulers and Israel, but also cover attacks on the health sector in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

"We want to empower the WHO and call for the Israeli side not to target the medical sector. We want to allow for fresh medical supplies," he told Reuters, adding that his diplomatic mission was drafting a motion to be reviewed by the board.

"One idea is to send more doctors in from around the world," he added, saying many countries had offered.

Only a fraction of Gaza's hospitals remain operational due to Israeli bombings and a lack of fuel, and those that are still functioning are increasingly overwhelmed by a new wave of wounded arriving.

A WHO database shows there have been 427 attacks on healthcare facilities in Palestinian territories since the Oct. 7 cross-border Hamas attack on Israel, and the latter's retaliatory aerial blitz and invasion of Gaza. The database does not touch on who is seen as responsible for the attacks.

Israel has accused Hamas of using ordinary Gazans as human shields by placing command centers and weapons inside hospitals and other civilian buildings.

A senior adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday Israel would facilitate the provision of humanitarian aid to Gaza's civilians as fighting there resumed after a week-long truce collapsed.

The WHO has also warned of spreading disease which it has said could kill more people than bombardments in Gaza, with diarrhea cases among children rising to about 100 times normal levels.

As many as 80 percent of Gaza's 2.3 million people have fled their homes in an Israeli bombing campaign that has reduced much of the crowded coastal strip to a desolate wasteland.

The WHO's governing board is made up of 34 members and typically meets every January to fix the agenda for its annual assembly. The United States, France, China and Japan are among countries currently holding seats.


Arman to Asharq Al-Awsat: Terminating UNITAMS Mission May Lead to War Escalation

 The leader of the Forces of Freedom and Change, Yasser Saeed Arman.
The leader of the Forces of Freedom and Change, Yasser Saeed Arman.
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Arman to Asharq Al-Awsat: Terminating UNITAMS Mission May Lead to War Escalation

 The leader of the Forces of Freedom and Change, Yasser Saeed Arman.
The leader of the Forces of Freedom and Change, Yasser Saeed Arman.

The leader of the Forces of Freedom and Change, Yasser Saeed Arman, said that ending the tasks of the UN Integrated Transitional Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) would not support the endeavors to end the war in the country.

The UN Security Council on Friday decided to terminate the mandate of the UN political mission in Sudan as of this Monday, after Khartoum called for its immediate withdrawal last month.

In statements to Asharq Al-Awsat, Arman said that the UN Security Council should not have ended the mission’s tasks, stressing that the international community would not abandon the issue of war in Sudan due to its internal and external repercussions on civilians.

The prominent Sudanese politician also warned that the decision to end the mission of UNITAMS would bring about “negative results to those who called for the termination.”

“Despite the current divisions in the Security Council, all of these measures encourage the escalation of the war instead of working to end it as quickly as possible, because they constitute a danger to the Sudanese state and herald its collapse...” He stated.

In mid-November, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres received a request from Khartoum to immediately end the mandate of the UN mission, and decided to appoint the Algerian diplomat, Ramtane Lamamra, as his personal envoy to Sudan.

Asked about the priorities and goals that the Sudanese political forces must seek to achieve in the coming period, Arman stressed that those should include securing access to humanitarian aid, protecting the civilians, and ending hostilities.

He added that the Sudanese components should work to “stop the war and build a new state, new army, and institutions that give the opportunity to establish a national project that achieves democracy and stability in the country.”

Since the announcement of the termination of the UNITAMS, questions were raised about whether Sudan would fall under the provisions of Chapter Seven of the United Nations Charter, which includes mechanisms for actions taken in cases of threat to peace.

According to Arman, falling under this chapter “depends on the developments of the war, and the extent to which it poses a major challenge for civilians, which forces the international community to resort to that path that entails large and extensive costs.”


Israeli Forces Kill 2 Palestinians in West Bank Raid

Israeli soldiers patrol near the West Bank city of Tulkarm where two Palestinians were reportedly killed during clashes with Israeli forces on October 5, 2023. (Photo by Zain JAAFAR / AFP)
Israeli soldiers patrol near the West Bank city of Tulkarm where two Palestinians were reportedly killed during clashes with Israeli forces on October 5, 2023. (Photo by Zain JAAFAR / AFP)
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Israeli Forces Kill 2 Palestinians in West Bank Raid

Israeli soldiers patrol near the West Bank city of Tulkarm where two Palestinians were reportedly killed during clashes with Israeli forces on October 5, 2023. (Photo by Zain JAAFAR / AFP)
Israeli soldiers patrol near the West Bank city of Tulkarm where two Palestinians were reportedly killed during clashes with Israeli forces on October 5, 2023. (Photo by Zain JAAFAR / AFP)

Israeli forces killed two Palestinians in a car and detained two others during a raid in the occupied West Bank on Monday, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported, without immediately providing further details.

Asked about the overnight incident in Qalqilya, an Israeli military spokesperson said "there was counter-terrorism activity there" and that further details would be published later, Reuters reported.

The West Bank has seen surging violence in parallel to Israel's eight-week-old war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, another territory where Palestinians seek statehood.


Netanyahu Calls on Ministers, Lawmakers Not to Criticize Security Forces During War

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (dpa)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (dpa)
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Netanyahu Calls on Ministers, Lawmakers Not to Criticize Security Forces During War

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (dpa)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (dpa)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Likud ministers and lawmakers on Sunday to avoid getting into personal arguments, including criticizing security forces.

“Be careful with your words, in particular during a time of war.”

According to the Times of Israel, the prime minister said that the war cabinet is acting “quickly but not recklessly” in its decisions about fighting and added that the focus remains on both the southern and northern fronts.

Netanyahu discussed ongoing efforts to secure the release of hostages in Gaza through military operations.

“We are continuing now to speak with our enemy about continuing to free hostages — speaking with fire,” he added.

Israel resumed its shelling on the Gaza Strip on Friday following a 7-day humanitarian truce that witnessed an exchange of captives and detainees held by Hamas.


3 Commercial Ships Hit by Missiles in Houthi Attack in Red Sea, US Warship Downs 3 Drones

The US Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney transits the Suez Canal, Egypt October 18, 2023. US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Aaron Lau/Handout via REUTERS.
The US Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney transits the Suez Canal, Egypt October 18, 2023. US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Aaron Lau/Handout via REUTERS.
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3 Commercial Ships Hit by Missiles in Houthi Attack in Red Sea, US Warship Downs 3 Drones

The US Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney transits the Suez Canal, Egypt October 18, 2023. US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Aaron Lau/Handout via REUTERS.
The US Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney transits the Suez Canal, Egypt October 18, 2023. US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Aaron Lau/Handout via REUTERS.

Ballistic missiles fired by Yemen's Houthi militias struck three commercial ships Sunday in the Red Sea, while a US warship shot down three drones in self-defense during the hourslong assault, the U.S. military said.

“These attacks represent a direct threat to international commerce and maritime security,” the US military's Central Command said in a statement. “They have jeopardized the lives of international crews representing multiple countries around the world.”

It added: “We also have every reason to believe that these attacks, while launched by the Houthis in Yemen, are fully enabled by Iran.”

The attack began around 9:15 a.m. local time (0615 GMT) in Houthi-controlled Sanaa, Central Command said.

The USS Carney, a Navy destroyer, detected a ballistic missile fired from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen at the Bahamas-flagged bulk carrier Unity Explorer. The missile hit near the ship, the US said. Shortly afterward, the Carney shot down a drone headed its way, although it's not clear if the destroyer was the target, Central Command said.

About 30 minutes later, the Unity Explorer was hit by a missile. While responding to its distress call, the Carney shot down another incoming drone. Central Command said the Unity Explorer sustained minor damage from the missile.

Two other commercial ships, the Panamanian-flagged bulk carriers Number 9 and Sophie II, were both struck by missiles. The Number 9 reported some damage but no casualties, and the Sophie II reported no significant damage, Central Command said.

While sailing to assist the Sophie II around 4:30 p.m. local time (1330 GMT), the Carney shot down another drone heading in its direction. The drones did no damage.

The Carney, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, has shot down multiple rockets the Houthis have fired toward Israel during the war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. It hasn't been damaged in any of the incidents and no injuries have been reported on board. The Defense Department initially described the assault as simply an attack on the Carney before providing more details.

Houthi military spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree claimed two of Sunday's attacks, saying the first vessel was hit by a missile and the second by a drone while in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait.


Sudan’s Commander-in-Chief Threatens to 'Crush' Rapid Support Forces

Army Commander and Chairman of the Sudanese Sovereign Council Abdel Fattah al-Burhan during a visit to Wad Madani (Sovereign Council media)
Army Commander and Chairman of the Sudanese Sovereign Council Abdel Fattah al-Burhan during a visit to Wad Madani (Sovereign Council media)
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Sudan’s Commander-in-Chief Threatens to 'Crush' Rapid Support Forces

Army Commander and Chairman of the Sudanese Sovereign Council Abdel Fattah al-Burhan during a visit to Wad Madani (Sovereign Council media)
Army Commander and Chairman of the Sudanese Sovereign Council Abdel Fattah al-Burhan during a visit to Wad Madani (Sovereign Council media)

Sudan’s Sovereign Council Chairman and Sudanese Army Commander-in-Chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan reiterated his unwavering commitment to eradicate the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and its supporters.

Burhan was speaking at the First Infantry Division in Wad Madani. He said the “battle of dignity” will continue until “Sudan is cleaned,” asserting that the Council and its supporters who believe in the unity of Sudan will “crush the enemy” and destroy its followers.

Since last April, the Army and the RSF have been fighting, and the battles have spread to large parts of the country, inflicting heavy losses.

Estimates indicate the number of civilian deaths was about 9,000, including women, children, and the elderly. Over six million persons have been displaced because of the clashes.

Burhan strongly condemned the civil opposition, asserting that solutions would not come from abroad and couldn’t be imposed on the country.

“The solution lies with the Sudanese people at home.”

The commander asserted that power can’t be achieved through war, adding that if any entity is wrong it thought it could rule the country after plundering its resources and killing its people.

Burhan addressed the “supporters of the Rapid Support,” namely politicians, saying the people will reject them, just as they did with the insurgents.

Referring to the Jeddah negotiations sponsored by Saudi Arabia and the US, Burhan reiterated that the RSF must exit the “combat zones,” stating that they headed to the talks with “open hearts” aiming to achieve peace in the country.

However, he noted that negotiations that do not meet the desire of the Sudanese people will not be acceptable, and talks that do not include the exit of forces from the combat zones will never be good.

Burhan welcomed the UN Security Council resolution to end the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), warning the new Envoy of the UN Secretary-General, Ramtane Lamamra, of facing “the same fate as his predecessors” if he aligns with a party to the conflict.

“We do not refuse to work with the UN, but we require a neutral mission to help us restore security and stability in Sudan,” asserted Burhan, welcoming the new Envoy.


Pope Deplores End to Gaza Truce, Urges New Ceasefire

Pope Francis holds a weekly general audience in the library of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican, April 28, 2021. Vatican Media/Handout via REUTERS
Pope Francis holds a weekly general audience in the library of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican, April 28, 2021. Vatican Media/Handout via REUTERS
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Pope Deplores End to Gaza Truce, Urges New Ceasefire

Pope Francis holds a weekly general audience in the library of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican, April 28, 2021. Vatican Media/Handout via REUTERS
Pope Francis holds a weekly general audience in the library of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican, April 28, 2021. Vatican Media/Handout via REUTERS

Pope Francis said Sunday that he was saddened the truce in the Gaza Strip had been broken and urged those involved in the conflict to reach a new ceasefire deal as soon as possible.

"There is so much suffering in Gaza," the pontiff said in comments from his private residence, which were read by an aide and broadcast on giant screens in Saint Peter's Square, AFP reported.

The 86-year-old is suffering from a lung infection that has caused breathing difficulties, and forced him to cancel a trip to Dubai to attend the international COP28 climate summit.

"Still today, I cannot read this all. I'm doing better, but my voice...," Francis said, before the aide took over.

In the comments, Francis said the end of the ceasefire meant "death, destruction, misery", stressing that the besieged Palestinian territory lacked even essential supplies.

He said the situation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories was "serious". "Many hostages have been freed but so many others are still in Gaza," he said.


Damascus 'Rejects' Watchdog Vote Curbing Chemical Exports to Syria

General photo of Syria's Bab al-Salam crossing  (Photo by Bakr ALKASEM / AFP)
General photo of Syria's Bab al-Salam crossing (Photo by Bakr ALKASEM / AFP)
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Damascus 'Rejects' Watchdog Vote Curbing Chemical Exports to Syria

General photo of Syria's Bab al-Salam crossing  (Photo by Bakr ALKASEM / AFP)
General photo of Syria's Bab al-Salam crossing (Photo by Bakr ALKASEM / AFP)

Syria's foreign ministry on Sunday lambasted a decision by the world's chemical weapons watchdog to limit chemical exports to the war-torn country.

"Syria rejects the resolution that was adopted" at the annual meeting Thursday of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), a ministry statement said.

It slammed Western nations that put forward the resolution, saying the vote "reflects Western hatred towards developing countries".

On Thursday, a majority of OPCW member countries voted for "collective measures" to stop the transfer of certain chemicals and chemical-making technology to Syria.

It cited Syria's "continued possession and use of chemical weapons" and "its failures to submit an accurate and complete declaration and to destroy all its undeclared chemical weapons and production facilities".

Syria agreed in 2013 to join the world's chemicals watchdog following after an alleged chemical gas attack killed more than 1,400 people near Damascus.

But the OPCW, based in The Hague, has since accused the Damascus of carrying out a series of chemical attacks during the civil war.

The Syrian government has denied the allegations.

Syria's OPCW voting rights were suspended in 2021, an unprecedented rebuke, following poison gas attacks on civilians in 2017.

Damascus has also denied the accusations.

The Syrian civil war broke out in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests, escalating into a deadly armed conflict involving foreign powers and global jihadist groups.

The war has killed more than half a million people and displaced half of the country's pre-war population.