Britain requests UN Security Council meeting on Yemen port offensive

File photo showing the UN Security Council meets on settlement of conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa region. (AFP)
Updated 13 June 2018
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Britain requests UN Security Council meeting on Yemen port offensive

  • The council is expected to meet Thursday, which would be the second time this week that the top UN body has held talks on the crisis in Yemen.
  • The UN envoy Martin Griffiths has been pressing the Houthis to turn over the port to a UN-supervised committee.

UNITED NATIONS: Britain on Wednesday requested an urgent UN Security Council meeting after Yemen government forces backed by the Saudi-led coalition launched an offensive on the key port of Hodeida, diplomats said.
The United Nations has raised alarm over the military operation, which could cripple deliveries of commercial goods and humanitarian aid to millions in Yemen who are on the brink of famine.
The council is expected to meet Thursday, which would be the second time this week that the top UN body has held talks on the crisis in Yemen.
The request came after UN envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, said he was continuing to hold negotiations on keeping Hodeida open.
The Red Sea port, controlled by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, serves as the entry point for 70 percent of the impoverished country’s imports, but the coalition maintains that the rebels use it to smuggle weapons.
The United Nations has warned that up to 250,000 people were at risk if the coalition moves ahead with an all-out offensive to take Hodeida.

The council on Monday said it backed Griffiths’ diplomatic efforts but did not specifically call on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, whose troops are backing Yemeni forces, to refrain from attacking Hodeida.
The UN envoy has been pressing the Houthis to turn over the port to a UN-supervised committee that would allow shipments of vital supplies to continue to flow through Hodeida.
More than 22 million people in Yemen are in need of aid including 8.4 million who are at risk of starvation, according to the United Nations which considers Yemen to be the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Since 2015, Saudi Arabia has been leading a military campaign to push back the Houthis and restore the internationally recognized government to power.
The conflict has left nearly 10,000 people dead, tens of thousands wounded in what was already the Arab world’s poorest country.
 

 

 

 


OIC countries seek to be dependent on their own halal vaccines

Updated 48 min 15 sec ago
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OIC countries seek to be dependent on their own halal vaccines

Ismira Lutfia Tisnadibrata, JAKARTA: Member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) are forging a way to become self-reliant on vaccines and medicines to the Islamic nations as representatives of their respective heads of national medicine regulatory authorities are meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, for the first time.
Penny Lukito, chairwoman of Indonesia’s National Agency of Drug and Food Control, said the first-ever meeting, which was called by Indonesia and kicked off on Wednesday, was timely since the dire health situation due to the lack of access to medicines and vaccines in some Islamic countries is worrying, especially in the least developing ones and those mired in conflicts.
“The capacity and ability of pharmaceutical industries in the Islamic world to produce essential medicines and vaccines are still at low proportions,” Lukito said in her opening speech. “We can’t let this situation continue unabated.”
This meeting, therefore, serves as a platform to identify gaps and opportunities for improving medicines' regulatory capacity, promoting public health and how to advance the pharmaceutical industry in OIC countries, said OIC Assistant Secretary-General for Science and Technology, Muhammad Naeem Khan.
“Overdependence on imported medicine and vaccines has had an adverse impact on the provision of health care in some OIC countries, including the refusal by some communities to use such medicines and vaccines,” Khan said in his opening remarks.
“It has also made many member states vulnerable to counterfeit and substandard medicines,” he added.
President of the Saudi Food and Drug Authority Hisham Saad Aljadhey said the outcome of this meeting will be very fruitful for individuals living in OIC countries in terms of availability and safety of medication.
“We have issues such as high prices of medication and building capacity," Aljadhey told Arab News on the sidelines of the two-day meeting. "We need to build a medicine regulatory agency within OIC countries which will focus on guidelines in accordance with the international ones and include good manufacturing practices for medication, review of scientific evidence, and to follow up on the safety of the product.”
Of the 57 OIC member states, only seven are vaccine producers and only a few produce export-quality medicines, while many countries, including the least developed ones -– many of whom are OIC member states -– still have to rely heavily on imported vaccines and medicines.
Saudi Ambassador to Indonesia Osama bin Mohammed Al-Shuaibi said Islamic countries need to collaborate on vaccine products because there are halal and non-halal vaccines, and vaccines would have to be approved by the ulema council.
However, he said Islam is very open and even if the medicine is not halal, people should take it to prevent death or illness to themselves and others.
“You can’t say this is not halal and your child is dead. This meeting will build more trust between Islamic countries to start producing their own medicines which are halal, if there is only a non-halal one. We try to find something halal, but if there is not, we have to have the medicine, whatever it is,” he told Arab News.
Febrian Ruddyard, the director general for multilateral cooperation at Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry, said the meeting would produce a joint statement dubbed the Jakarta Declaration, which reaffirms the OIC countries’ commitment to strengthen the regulatory framework on medicines and vaccines.
“Health problems could disperse and cause other problems if we don’t regulate them. We can’t be healthy on our own. We have to stay healthy together,” he said.