US and Argentina to work together to cut off Hezbollah funding in Latin America

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Argentinian Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie hold a news conference at San Martin Palace in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Reuters)
Updated 05 February 2018

US and Argentina to work together to cut off Hezbollah funding in Latin America

BUENOS AIRES: The United States and Argentina are to work together more closely to cut off Lebanese Hezbollah’s funding networks in Latin America, both nations’ top diplomats said Sunday.
Argentina has a large Lebanese expatriate population and US authorities suspect groups within it of raising funds through organized crime to support the Iranian-backed armed movement.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was in Buenos Aires for talks with his Argentinian counterpart Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie, and afterwards they confirmed that the issue had come up.
“With respect to Hezbollah, we also did speak today in our discussion about all of the region about how we must all jointly go after these transnational criminal organizations — narcotics trafficking, human trafficking, smuggling, money laundering — because we see the connections to terrorist financing organizations as well,” Tillerson said.
“And we did specifically discuss the presence of Lebanese Hezbollah in this hemisphere, which is raising funds, obviously, to support its terrorist activities.
“So it is something that we jointly agree we need to attack and eliminate,” Tillerson said.
Faurie, standing by Tillerson’s side at a joint news conference, agreed, saying that South America had become a “zone of peace” and that outside groups must not be allowed to jeopardize this.
“And, as Secretary Tillerson said, we need to intensify every possible exchange not only in terms of dialogue but also in terms of information on the actions of these groups which take advantage of transnational crime to foster their interests, which Argentina certainly does not agree with,” he said.
In 1992, the violence of the Middle East erupted in Argentina, when bombers attacked the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, killing 29 people. Two years later, an attack on a Jewish community center in the city left 85 dead.
None of the bombers were ever convicted, but international investigators followed a trail that appears to link them to Hezbollah — a group which Washington has designated a terrorist organization — and to senior Iranian officials.
The bombings did not continue, but US experts believe that Hezbollah, working under close Iranian supervision, has built a fund-raising network in Latin America that profits from drug smuggling to fund its political and military activities.


UN officials appeal for Yemen funding amid pandemic

Updated 27 min 13 sec ago

UN officials appeal for Yemen funding amid pandemic

  • The United Nations says COVID-19 has likely already spread throughout most of Yemen
  • UN officials: What we don’t have is the money. We ask donors to pledge generously and pay pledges promptly

UNITED NATIONS, United States: Top officials from several UN agencies appealed Thursday for urgent international financial support in Yemen with coronavirus spreading in the war-torn country.
“We are increasingly alarmed about the situation in Yemen,” officials from the UN Humanitarian Affairs Department, UNICEF, the World Food Programme and the World Health Organization said in a joint statement.
“We are running out of time,” they said.
The United Nations says COVID-19 has likely already spread throughout most of Yemen, which was already immersed in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis because of a war that shows no sign of abating.
The UN officials said they currently have enough “skills, staff and capacity.”
“What we don’t have is the money. We ask donors to pledge generously and pay pledges promptly,” they said, noting that a donors conference has been organized for June 2 by Saudi Arabia and the United Nations.
Mark Lowcock, the under secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, said $2.4 billion needed to be raised by the end of the year for Yemen, including $180 million to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Yemen is in desperate need of assistance,” Muhannad Hadi of the World Food Programme said, while UNICEF’s director, Henriette Fore, warned of a “major disaster.”
More than 12 million children in Yemen are in need of humanitarian aid, she said.
Before the pandemic, two million children lacked schools. Another five million have since been forced to quit school, she said.
Officially, 50 people have died from the new coronavirus in Yemen and infections have been reported in 10 of country’s 22 governorates.
“But testing and reporting remain limited and it is likely that most areas of the country are already impacted, if not all,” the United Nations reports.
Yemen has been engulfed in war since 2014 between Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, who control several regions including the capital Sanaa, and the government backed by a coalition led since 2015 by Saudi Arabia.