United Nations, Oct 23 (AP/UNB) — The U.N. humanitarian chief says the conflict in Yemen has left 8.4 million people dependent on emergency food assistance and 75 percent of its 22 million people requiring some form of aid.
Mark Lowcock warns in an analysis obtained Monday night by The Associated Press that humanitarian officials "estimate that 3.5 million to 4 million more people could become severely food insecure in the months ahead."
The analysis, which is to be the subject of a briefing to the Security Council on Tuesday, says 3 million Yemenis are malnourished, including 1.1 million pregnant women "and more than 400,000 severely acutely malnourished children."
In a worst case scenario, Lowcock warns that if current trends continue, food needs could increase "by as much as 62 percent."
The conflict in Yemen, the Arab world's poorest country, began with the 2014 takeover of the capital, Sanaa, by Houthi Shiite rebels, which toppled the internationally recognized government. A Saudi-led coalition allied with the government has been fighting the Houthis since 2015.
Civilians have borne the brunt of the conflict, which has killed over 10,000 people and sparked a cholera epidemic and humanitarian crisis.
At the beginning of 2017, the U.N. and its partners were able to provide aid to 3 million hungry Yemenis. But since then, they have scaled up assistance, reaching 8 million people last month because of generous funding from donors, Lowcock said. But increased funding is needed now to meet the "projected increases in needs."
He also urged combatants to allow easier access for aid operations and an expansion of commercial imports.
Lowcock warned the council on Sept. 21 that the fight against famine was being lost and said the situation had deteriorated "in an alarming way" in previous weeks.
"We may now be approaching a tipping point, beyond which it will be impossible to prevent massive loss of life as a result of widespread famine across the country," he said. "We are already seeing pockets of famine-like conditions, including cases where people are eating leaves."
Lowcock's new analysis was sent to the council to comply with a Security Council resolution adopted in May asking for swift reporting on "the risk of conflict-induced famine and widespread food insecurity."
He said a major conflict-related factor affecting the availability of food is the loss of household income, citing World Bank estimates that Yemen's economy has contracted 50 percent since the start of conflict, with at least 600,000 jobs lost, mainly in agriculture and the service sector.
Another major factor, Lowcock said, is the depreciation of Yemen's currency, the rial, which has lost 47 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar in the past year, including 20 percent since September.
"In the last six weeks, the price of the basic food basket has increased 25 percent and is now more than twice pre-crisis levels," he said. "The currency crisis has also forced the price of fuel up by 45 percent" which is impacting transport, water, electricity, health and sanitation services.
Lowcock said approximately 80 percent of food and other basic commodities for the Houthi-controlled north enter Yemen through the ports of Hodeida and Salif. But while imports have substantially increased since the Saudi-led coalition lifted a blockade in late 2017, he said monthly volumes are between 16 percent and 20 percent lower than pre-crisis levels.
Istanbul, Oct 23 (UNB/AP) - Just hours after writer Jamal Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, a man strolled out of the diplomatic post apparently wearing the columnist's clothes as part of a macabre deception to sow confusion over his fate, according to surveillance video leaked Monday.
The new video broadcast by CNN, as well as a pro-government Turkish newspaper's report that a member of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's entourage made four calls to the royal's office from the consulate around the same time, put ever-increasing pressure on the kingdom. Meanwhile, Turkish crime-scene investigators swarmed a garage Monday night in Istanbul where a Saudi consular vehicle had been parked.
All this came on the eve of Prince Mohammed's high-profile investment summit in Riyadh, which has seen a raft of the world's top business leaders decline to attend over the slaying of the writer for The Washington Post.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who said he would not attend the conference, met with the crown prince on Monday night. The Saudi foreign ministry tweeted out a photo of the two men meeting, and U.S. Treasury spokesman Tony Sayegh said in a separate tweet that Mnuchin raised the Kashoggi investigation in his discussions with the crown prince.
Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has promised that details of Khashoggi's killing "will be revealed in all its nakedness" in an address he'll make before parliament on Tuesday.
"We are faced with a situation in which it was a brutally planned (killing) and efforts were made to cover it up," said Omer Celik, a spokesman for Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party. "God willing, the results will be brought into the open, those responsible will be punished and no one will dare think of carrying out such a thing again."
The kingdom's announcement Saturday that Khashoggi died in a "fistfight" was met with international skepticism and allegations of a cover-up to absolve the 33-year-old crown prince of direct responsibility.
U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House on Monday that he was "not satisfied with what I've heard," regarding Khashoggi's death. He added: "We will know very soon."
Turkish media reports and officials maintain that a 15-member Saudi team flew to Istanbul on Oct. 2, knowing Khashoggi would enter the consulate to get a document he needed to get married. Once he was inside, the Saudis accosted Khashoggi, cut off his fingers, killed and dismembered the 59-year-old writer, according to Turkish media reports.
Surveillance video on CNN showed the man in Khashoggi's dress shirt, suit jacket and pants, although he wore a different pair of shoes. It cited a Turkish official as describing the man as a "body double" and a member of the Saudi team sent to Istanbul to target the writer. The man walks out of the consulate via its back exit with an accomplice, then takes a taxi to Istanbul's famed Blue Mosque, where he goes to a public bathroom, changes back out of the clothes and leaves. He later eats dinner with his accomplice and goes back to a hotel, where footage shows him smiling and laughing.
The state-run broadcaster TRT later also reported that a man who entered the consulate was seen leaving the building in Khashoggi's clothes.
In the days after Khashoggi vanished, Saudi officials initially said he had left the consulate by its back door. Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. Prince Khalid bin Salman, a brother of the crown prince, wrote Oct. 8 that Khashoggi had left, and that claims the kingdom "have detained him or killed him are absolutely false, and baseless."
The fact that the Saudi team would allegedly have a man walking around in Khashoggi's clothes would suggest a premeditated plot to kill the writer.
A separate report Monday by newspaper Yeni Safak said Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, a member of Prince Mohammed's entourage seen on trips to the U.S., France and Spain this year, made the calls from the consulate. The newspaper said the four calls went to Bader al-Asaker, the head of Prince Mohammed's office. It said another call went to the United States.
Yeni Safak cited no source for the information. However, pro-government newspapers have been leaking information about Khashoggi's killing, apparently with the help of Turkish security forces. Yeni Safak reported last week that Saudi officials cut off Khashoggi's fingers and then decapitated him at the consulate as his fiancée waited outside.
Officials in Saudi Arabia have not answered repeated requests for comment from The Associated Press in recent days, including on Monday. Saudi Arabia so far has not acknowledged or explained Mutreb's presence in Istanbul or the presence of a forensics and autopsy expert at the consulate before Khashoggi arrived.
Last week, a leaked photo apparently taken from surveillance footage showed Mutreb at the consulate, just ahead of Khashoggi's arrival. Mutreb's name also matches that of a first secretary who once served as a diplomat at the Saudi Embassy in London, according to a 2007 list compiled by the British Foreign Office.
By nightfall, Turkish police began searching an underground car parking garage in Istanbul's Sultangazi district. Surveillance footage on TRT showed what Turkish security officials described as suspicious actions, including an image of a man moving a bag from one vehicle to another.
Meanwhile, Saudi state media reported that both Prince Mohammed and King Salman made calls to Khashoggi's son, Salah, early Monday. Statements from the agency said both the king and the crown prince expressed their condolences for Khashoggi's death.
A Saudi friend of Khashoggi who was in frequent touch with him before his death told the AP that Salah Khashoggi had been under a travel ban and barred from leaving the kingdom since last year as a result of his father's criticism of the government. The friend spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of repercussion. The Saudi statements did not acknowledge the ban.
Five Turkish employees of the consulate also gave testimony to prosecutors Monday, Turkish media reported. Istanbul's chief prosecutor had summoned 28 more staff members of the Saudi Consulate, including Turkish citizens and foreign nationals, to give testimony. Some Turkish employees reportedly said they were instructed not to go to work around the time that Khashoggi disappeared.
Jakarta, Oct 23 (AP/UNB) — Saudi Arabia's foreign minister says the investigation into the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi will produce the truth about what happened.
He also pledged that mechanisms will be put in place so that "something like this can never happen again."
Adel al-Jubeir spoke on Tuesday in Indonesia, just hours before Turkey's president was expected to detail his own country's findings.
Al-Jubeir says Saudi Arabia is committed to ensuring "that the investigation is thorough and complete and that the truth is revealed and that those responsible will be held to account."
Saudi Arabia has acknowledged that Kashoggi died on Oct. 2, during a visit to the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul. It maintains he died in a fistfight. Turkish officials say the 59-year-old was attacked and killed by a 15-man Saudi team.
Dubai, Oct 22 (AP/UNB) — Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has called the son of Jamal Khashoggi, the journalist killed at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul by officials that allegedly included a member of the royal's entourage.
King Salman likewise called Khashoggi's son, Salah.
That's according to statements published early Monday by the state-run Saudi Press Agency. The statements said both King Salman and Prince Mohammed "expressed his condolences"
Khashoggi was killed Oct. 2 at the consulate, where he had gone to get paperwork to be married.
For weeks, Saudi Arabia insisted the Washington Post contributor had left the consulate. The kingdom finally acknowledged his death early Saturday in what it described as a "fistfight."
Turkish media quotes officials saying a team of 15 Saudis removed Khashoggi's fingers, killed him and dismembered him.
Istanbul, Oct 22 (AP/UNB)— In a sign of growing pressure on Saudi Arabia, Turkey said it will announce details of its investigation into the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Tuesday and U.S. congressional leaders said the Gulf kingdom — in particular its crown prince — should face severe consequences for the death of the writer in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
The announcement on Sunday by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he will "go into detail" about the Khashoggi case in a speech in parliament heightened hopes for some clarity in a case that has been shrouded in mystery, conflicting accounts and shocking allegations since Khashoggi, a critic of Prince Mohammed bin Salman, disappeared after entering the consulate on Oct 2.
Erdogan spoke after Saudi Arabia, in a statement early Saturday, finally acknowledged that 59-year-old Khashoggi had died in the consulate, though its explanation that he was killed in a "fistfight" was met with international skepticism and allegations of a cover-up designed to absolve Prince Mohammed of direct responsibility. Saudi Arabia said 18 Saudis were arrested and that several top intelligence officials were fired.
Pro-government media in Turkey have reported a different narrative, saying a Saudi hit squad of 15 people traveled to Turkey to kill the columnist for The Washington Post before leaving the country hours later in private jets.
"Why did these 15 people come here? Why were 18 people arrested? All of this needs to be explained in all its details," Erdogan said.
Meanwhile, Istanbul's chief prosecutor summoned 28 more staff members of the Saudi consulate, including Turkish citizens and foreign nationals, to give testimony on Monday, Turkish state broadcaster TRT reported. Prosecutors have previously questioned consulate staff; some Turkish employees reportedly said they were instructed not to go to work around the time that Khashoggi disappeared.
Turkish news agency Anadolu Agency reported Sunday that Khashoggi's fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, has been given 24-hour police protection.
Also Sunday, images that were obtained by TRT World, a Turkish news channel that broadcasts in English, showed Khashoggi as he arrived at a police barrier before entering the consulate on Oct. 2. The images, taken from security camera video, show the writer being searched before continuing toward the building.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on Fox News that Khashoggi's killing was "a rogue operation" and that "we don't know where the body is.'"
"The individuals who did this did this outside the scope of their authority," he said. "There obviously was a tremendous mistake made and what compounded the mistake was the attempt to try to cover up. That is unacceptable to the government."
However, a leading U.S. Senate Republican said the Saudi explanation, which followed initial denials from the kingdom that it knew anything about Khashoggi's fate, wasn't credible.
Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Saturday on CNN's "State of the Union" that he believed Prince Mohammed, the heir-apparent of the world's largest oil exporter, was behind the killing.
The crown prince has "now crossed a line and there has to be a punishment and a price paid for that," Corker said. He also urged Turkey to turn over purported audio recordings of Khashoggi's killing inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The existence of such evidence has been reported in Turkish media in a series of leaks, though Turkish officials have yet to confirm they have recordings.
"The Turks have been talking more to the media than they have us," Corker said of the NATO ally.
California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said on ABC's "This Week" that the killing should be a "relationship-altering" event for the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, which has said it will retaliate against any economic sanctions or other moves against it.
"We ought to suspend military sales, we ought to suspend certain security assistance and we ought to impose sanctions on any of those that were directly involved in this murder," Schiff said.
U.S. President Donald Trump had also talked about possible punishment but said he didn't want to halt a proposed $110 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia because, he maintained, it would harm U.S. manufacturers. He initially said he believed the Saudi account. Speaking late Saturday after a campaign rally in Nevada, Trump said he needs to learn more about the killing and will be working with Congress on the U.S. response. He also said he will talk soon to Prince Mohammed.
Britain, Germany and France issued a joint statement condemning the killing of Khashoggi, saying there is an "urgent need for clarification of exactly what happened."
In a statement Sunday, the governments said attacks on journalists are unacceptable and "of utmost concern to our three nations." They said the "hypotheses" proposed so far in the Saudi investigation need to be backed by facts to be considered credible.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters in Berlin on Sunday that she supports a freeze on arms exports to Saudi Arabia.