Greater Middle East

Yemen: demand Houthis release detained UN staff

Amnesty International called for Houthi authorities in Yemen to immediately release detained staff from the UN and civil society organizations. Amnesty’s call comes one month after the arbitrary arrest or enforced disappearance of some 30 aid and human rights workers following raids on homes and offices. Amnesty charges that the Houthis continue to restrict the delivery and movement of humanitarian aid by imposing bureaucratic constraints, cancelling humanitarian initiatives, and enforcing the “male guardian requirement” on Yemeni women humanitarian workers traveling around the country. A Houthi media campaign has accused human rights and humanitarian groups of “conspiring against the country’s interest.” The actions of Houthi authorities are seen as an attempt to distract from their governance failures, especially after a humanitarian aid pause by the World Food Program following concerns over aid manipulation. (Map via PCL)


Kenya backtracks on tax bill after deadly protests

Kenyan President William Ruto backtracked on a contentious tax-hiking finance bill, after street protests left at least 13 people dead and 150 injured as police opened fire with live ammunition. The youth-led protests were triggered by a range of proposed new taxes that critics say will increase the financial burden on families already struggling with rising prices. Before capitulating to protester demands, the government declared a “security emergency” and deployed the military to support the police—a move that technically requires parliamentary approval. Ruto claimed the protests had been infiltrated by organized criminals whose actions were “treasonous.” (Photo: Anthony Langat/The New Humanitarian)


Ethiopian forces committed genocide in Tigray: report

There is “credible” evidence that Ethiopian forces committed genocide during the two-year war in northern Tigray region, a new report has concluded. Ethiopia’s National Defense Force and its allies—the paramilitary Amhara Special Forces and the Eritrean Defense Forces—are accused of committing “at least four acts” constituting genocide against Tigrayans, including: killing, causing serious bodily or mental harm, deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about their destruction, and imposing measures intended to prevent childbirth. The report by the US-based New Lines Institute called for Ethiopia to be referred to the UN’s top court, the International Court of Justice. (Map: Political Geography Now)


UN commission accuses Israel of war crimes

Israeli forces have committed war crimes and violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, and there are “reasonable grounds” to conclude Hamas and loyalists have done the same, a UN inquiry concluded in a new report. The report, which covers Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks on Israeli civilians and the initial phase of Israel’s retaliatory invasion and bombardment of Gaza, was produced by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, & Israel (Commission). The UN Human Rights Council established the Commission in 2021 to monitor rights and humanitarian concerns in the region. (Photo: badwanart0/Pixabay via Jurist)


Israel seizes ‘buffer zone’ on Gaza-Egypt border

The Israel Defense Forces took “operational control” of the Philadelphi Corridor, the strip of territory running along the border between Egypt and Gaza, claiming it was being used by Hamas to traffic weapons into the Strip. In the operation, the IDF’s 162nd Division said it uncovered dozens of rocket launchers in a network of tunnels under the Corridor. The Corridor, known to the Egyptians as Salah al-Din, had been established as a demilitarized zone under the 1978 Camp David Accords, and its re-occupation by Israel as led to fears that Egypt will “tear up the peace treaty” between the two countries. (Photo: IDF via JNS)

Standing Together

Israeli activists mobilize to protect aid trucks

For months, groups on the Israeli far right have traveled to the crossings where aid is moved from the West Bank to the Gaza border in an effort to disrupt the shipments—even attacking drivers and attempting to destroy the supplies. But now, other groups of Israelis are boarding buses from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and heading to those crossings to try and help the trucks complete their passage into Gaza to deliver the aid. This has sparked stand-offs near the border between right-wing groups such as Tzav 9 and pro-coexistence groups such as Standing Together. Activists from Standing Together have helped clear roads and reload boxes of humanitarian aid that had been thrown off trucks by Tzav 9 followers. (Photo: Standing Together via Times of Israel)


ICC prosecutor seeks arrest warrant for Netanyahu

International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Karim AA Khan announced that he has applied for arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as senior Hamas leaders, for crimes committed during the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. The officials face various charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity under the Rome Statute. (Photo: OSeveno/WikiMedia)

South Asia

Uprising in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir

Three protesters were killed and six injured as Pakistani security forces fired on crowds during angry street demonstrations in Muzaffarabad, capital of Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK). The paramilitary Rangers were mobilized to Muzaffarabad after a police officer was killed amid protests over high food, fuel and electricity prices. A “wheel-jam and shutter-down” strike had been called by the Jammu Kashmir Joint Awami Action Committee (JAAC), but was called off as Islamabad agreed to a Rs 23 billion ($86 million) subsidy for the region. The new deadly violence erupted just as the Rangers were starting to withdraw from Muzaffarabad. A curfew remains in place in the city. (Photo of vigil for slain protesters via Twitter)

Planet Watch

World peasant movements mobilize for UNDROP

The world organization for land-rooted peasant farmers, Vía Campesina, launched an international campaign for full approval of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants & Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP), and for implementation of policies in line with its principles. Several events were held around the world marking the International Day of Peasant Struggle. El Salvador was one of the first countries to commit to ratifying UNDROP after it was adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in 2018. However, Vía Campesina affiliates in the Central American nation accused the government of pursuing policies contrary to its spirit, noting that in the years since then, there has been a reduction in cultivated areas of maize and beans, with a loss of at least 10,000 hectares of maize. (Image: Vía Campesina)


Hamas accepts ceasefire; Israel strikes Rafah

Hamas has announced that its leaders have told Egyptian and Qatari mediators that they accepted the most recent Gaza ceasefire proposal. Israel’s war cabinet responded by voting to continue the planned military operation in Rafah, and the IDF announced air-strikes on targets in the southern Gaza city. The strikes came as Palestinians in Gaza were celebrating Hamas’ announcement, and Israeli protestors joined families of the hostages to demand that Israel accept the deal. (Image: Workers set up tents donated by the Qatari Red Crescent in al-Mawasi, an Israeli-designated “safe zone” in Gaza. Credit: Mohamed Soulaimane/TNH)

Planet Watch

How to break cycle of rising global hunger?

More countries facing crises; more people going hungry. Some 281 million people were locked in high levels of acute hunger last year, according to the latest Global Report on Food Crises—a benchmark analysis of food insecurity by a network that includes UN agencies, donors, and famine analysts. The figure is 24 million higher than the previous year—a rise driven in part by Sudan’s civil war and Israel’s destruction of Gaza. Global hunger numbers have spiked since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to rise. A mix of conflict, extreme weather, El Niño, inflation, and volatile food prices suggest there won’t be a reprieve by the time 2024’s numbers are tallied. (Photo: Maan News Agency)


Gaza aid groups brace for Israeli invasion of Rafah

As Israel continues to threaten a full-scale assault on Rafah in southern Gaza, aid organizations are scrambling to try to prepare to respond to the catastrophic humanitarian impact a ground invasion is expected to have. Facing a severe scarcity of supplies and resources, people involved in the effort say whatever preparations they are able to make will undoubtedly fall far short of the needs. (Photo: Mohamed Solaimane/TNH)