The "Expert Report: The aggravation of the violations and the continued suffering" symposium - Photo Courtesy of the UAE Journalists official Twitter account
CAIRO – 9 September 2018: Abu Dhabi hosted Sunday an international symposium with the aim of reviewing and critically analysing and evaluating the recommendations and points of a report published by an investigation team in the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) concerning the human rights situation in Yemen.
Organized by the Journalists Association of United Arab Emirates (UAE), the symposium was attended by a multitude of international analysts, researchers and experts, as well as representatives from international organizations and agencies, and aimed to point out the “serious mistakes” that the report presents and the “violations and bias” that the investigation team holds.
Compromising of three sessions—the first critically analysed the report; the second focused on the role of NGOs in protecting human rights and the role of Saudi Arabia and the UAE is helping the Yemeni people re-build their state; and, the third was a debate that discussed the key findings of the day, ending with a presentation of the final recommendations.
Throughout the day the view of international experts seemed to be that the UNHRC report contained much bias towards the Yemeni people and that the investigation team did not conduct their research based on the principals of impartiality and objectivity.
During the symposium titled, “Expert Report: The aggravation of the violations and the continued suffering,” a number of gaps in the report came to the fore, however, the committee asserted that their aim is not to respond to the report but to clarify its shortcomings to ensure that no party is falsely wronged. The two most important messages to come out of the meetings were: The need to support Yemen by restoring legitimacy and peace; and, the focus of Arab states on building peace and sustainable development in Yemen.
Amjad Shamout, the Chairman of the Arab League’s Permanent Committee on Human Rights, commented on the report and the outcome of the symposium saying, “the report included systematic problems in the foundations: it relies on selective means of social communication,” he continued, “The report [also] contains inaccuracies and it contradictions events on the ground and violations committed by the Houthi Militia.” Furthermore, Shamout saw that the report was biased and unfair, explaining that it is “a political rather than technical report.”
Shamout also stressed the significant role that the media plays in shaping and changing convictions, expressing the view that the region has witnessed devastating media coverage over the last period.
Eissa El-Araby, Head of the Arab Institute for Human Rights, who also attended the symposium held Sunday, explained that a number of European countries, as well as some Arab countries, have been pushing for such a report to come into the scene. Moreover, El-Araby seconded Shamout’s opinion regarded the omission of the Houthis’ crimes from the report, saying, “One of the most important shortcomings of the report is the lack of coverage of the major crimes committed by Houthis against the elected legitimate regime.”
Those who investigated and write the report, according to El-Araby, clearly departd from the UNHRC mandate given to them.
Nabil Abdel-Hafiz, the Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights’ deputy, also agreed that the UN report surpasses, and completely omitted, Huthis, explaining that the report is political. “The report did not mention Iran and Hezbollah at all, while it professed to insult Saudi Arabia, which threatened the Houthis’ security through ballistic missiles,” said Abdel-Hafiz.
Arguing that the Houthi Militia has violated human rights in Yemen since 2004, Abdel-Hafiz explained, “We dealt with the militias with great patience and we engaged in the national dialogue conference, but they betrayed the Yemenis and turned against legitimacy. … We adhere to the Arab alliance that we have requested to help Yemen and its legitimate government.”
In similar vein, head of the Higher Relief Committee in Yemen Abdulraqib Fath rejected the information contained in the UNHRC report on Yemen, asseting that the allegations contained therein are not consisted with the methodology of human rights research, international conventions on human rights, international law, or even international customary law.
During the session, Mohammed Al Hamadi, head of the Journalists Association of the UAE, stressed that Arab countries support the legitimacy in Yemen, and that they focus on building the modern Yemeni state, whilst ensuring its stability and development.
Egypt and Yemen
Egypt and Yemen have strong historical bonds; since Yemeni crisis erupted in 2011, Egypt, as a member of the Arab Coalition, has supported the legitimate government in Yemen and scores of refugees.
Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s visit to Cairo on Monday sheds light on strong Egyptian-Yemeni bilateral ties in different fields.
Yemeni Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yamani said that Hadi will express his thanks to President Sisi for housing many Yemeni refugees amid the difficult circumstances Egypt faces.
He added that Hadi will discuss the situation in Yemen during his meeting with Sisi, confirming that Egypt supports Yemeni people and is interested in ending Houthi attacks against Saudi Arabia and combating Iran’s regional attempts.
This will be Hadi’s third visit to visit Egypt since took office; he previously visited Sharm El- Sheikh to participate in the March 2015 Arab Summit and attended the new Suez Canal inauguration in August 2015.
Moreover, Egypt has long expressed its deep concern about the serious escalation of situation in Yemen leading to the execution of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh at the hands of Houthi militias.
Egypt supported Yemen’s GCC power transfer deal signed in 2011 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, for former President Ali Abdullah Saleh handing over power to his deputy Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
During the Arab Summit held in Sharm el-Sheikh in March 2015, Egypt backed the Saudi-led Operation Decisive Storm against Houthi fighters in Iran-backed Houthis, a move backing Yemeni legitimacy.
“Egypt has declared its political and military support, its participation with the coalition with an aerial and naval Egyptian force, as well as a ground force if necessary, in light of Egypt’s historic and unshakeable responsibility towards Arab and Gulf national security,” Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry told a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Sharm el-Sheikh.
As a part of its participation in Operation Decisive Storm, the Egyptian naval forced Iranian warships to retreat from the Bab al Mandeb strait in March 2015.
Additionally, the Egyptian National Defense agreed in January 2017 to extend the participation of required elementsfrom the Armed Forces in a combat operation outside the nation's border to defend Egyptian and Arab national security in the Gulf, Red Sea, and Bab al-Mandeb.
As for housing Yemeni refugees, Egypt has received 6,810 Yemeni refugees, according to the UN Refugee Agency. The most populous Arab country also rejects the idea of refugee camps and allows refugees to access to all Egyptian services.
In July 2018, Egypt’s Ministry of Education declared that Syrians and Yemenis are not required to pay the high fees imposed on other foreign nationals due to the hardships they have faced amid ongoing civil wars.
Economic relations between Egypt and Yemen have improved in the recent period upon directions from President Sisi and in solidarity with the Yemeni people. Egypt has sent humanitarian aid, including medicine, vaccines and medical equipment since April 2018.
The volume of trade exchange between Egypt and Yemen during 2011 reached $250 million.
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