Israel confirms withdrawal from UN cultural body

UNESCO chief Audrey Azoulay said she had been officially notified on Friday of Israel’s decision to leave on Dec. 31, 2018.(Reuters)
Updated 29 December 2017

Israel confirms withdrawal from UN cultural body

PARIS: Israel has formally notified the UN’s culture and education body of its withdrawal from the organization, two months after it announced it would follow the US by walking out over resolutions critical of the Jewish state.
In a statement UNESCO chief Audrey Azoulay said she had been officially notified on Friday that Israel would leave on December 31, 2018.
“I regret this deeply, as it is my conviction that it is inside UNESCO and not outside it that states can best seek to overcome differences in the organization’s fields of competence,” she said.
The October 12 announcement by the United States that it was pulling out of the organization underlined Washington’s drift away from multilateral institutions under nationalist President Donald Trump.
The US at the time accused UNESCO of having an “anti-Israel bias” — a sentiment echoed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who accused UNESCO of becoming “the theater of the absurd.”
Their pullout followed two Arab-sponsored resolutions adopted by Paris-based UNESCO this year which were critical of Israel.
One referred to the Jewish state as “the occupying power” in the divided city of Jerusalem. Another declared the Old City of Hebron in the occupied West Bank a Palestinian World Heritage site.
Tensions had been bubbling since UNESCO controversially admitted Palestine as a member state in 2011 — a move opposed by the US and Israel, who argue that any recognition of Palestinian statehood must await a negotiated Middle East peace deal.
The US cut funding to UNESCO over the decision, depriving it of around a fifth of its budget.
The 195-member body is best known for producing a list of World Heritage sites that have become tourist favorites.
Israel, which has been a member since 1949, has nine sites on the list, including the ancient Masada fortress next to the Dead Sea.
UNESCO also runs science, educational and cultural programs, including programs to educate people about the Holocaust and promote intercultural dialogue.


Global rights groups condemn deadly attack on Yemen jail

Updated 06 April 2020

Global rights groups condemn deadly attack on Yemen jail

  • Internationally-recognized government has accused Iranian-backed Houthi militia of carrying out the attack

LONDON: Two international rights groups on Monday condemned an attack on a prison in Yemen’s besieged city of Taiz that left six women and a child dead.

The internationally-recognized government has accused Iranian-backed Houthi militia of carrying out Sunday’s attack.

The Houthis targeted the female section of the prison with mortar shells, according to the government’s Saba news agency.

“This is a criminal and bloodthirsty gang that has long targeted civilian gatherings and residential areas. In addition to the carnage in the prison, they gunned down today two children in eastern Taiz, killing one and leaving the other in critical condition,” Abdul Basit Al-Baher, a Yemeni army spokesman in Taiz, told Arab News, adding that the prison is almost 12km from the nearest battlefield.

“They targeted the prison with a Katyusha rocket followed by five mortal shells which show that they deliberately sought to kill civilians.”

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said its hospital in Taiz received the casualties.

“MSF-supported Al-Thawra Hospital in Taiz city received the bodies of six women and one child who were killed in an attack on the central prison in Taiz,” it said on Twitter.

The government said 28 other female prisoners were wounded.

“Taiz citizens continue to suffer from the ongoing violence in the sixth year of the protracted conflict in Yemen,” MSF said.

“These attacks on civilians, whether indiscriminate or targeted, are unjustifiable breaches of international humanitarian law.”

The International Committee of the Red Cross said attacks on prisons were banned under international law.

“The ICRC deplores yesterday’s attack on Taiz central prison that left women and children dead and injured,” the ICRC said on Twitter.

“Prisons and their inmates are protected under international humanitarian law and can not be a targeted, it said.

Meanwhile, the UN's envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths condemned the attack on Twitter, saying: "I condemn the heinous attack on Taiz's central prison which killed and injured several women and children.Civilians and civilian objects including prisons must be protected as per international humanitarian law."

 

 

The attack was also blasted by the International Committee for the Red Cross in Yemen.

 

 

Taiz, a city of 600,000 people in southwest Yemen, is under government control but has been under siege by Houthi militia for the past six years.

Tens of thousands of Yemenis have been killed in more than five years of fighting.

Yemen’s health care system has so far recorded no case of the COVID-19 illness, but aid groups have warned that when it does hit, the impact will be catastrophic. The country is already gripped by what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

(With AFP)

Related