Free Yemeni ports, UN urges Saudi-led coalition
THE United Nations’ and other relief agencies have urged the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen to relinquish control of ports in the city of Hodeidah to prevent further conflict that, they say, would worsen the situation for millions of starving civilians. The secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, Jan Egeland, told Reuters: “The coalition ground forces are now at the doorstep of this heavily fortified, heavily mined port city. Thousands of civilians are fleeing from the outskirts of Hodeidah, which is now a battle zone.” The UN is calling on Western allies to encourage both parties to resume UN talks to end the three-year war. It has described the situation in as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. At least 2.9 million children and women are malnourished, and 16 million people do not have access to safe drinking water.
US Supreme Court rules on Colorado cake case
THE US Supreme Court has ruled by seven to two in favour of the Masterpiece Cakeshop against the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, concerning the baker Jack Phillips’s refusal to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple in 2012. The Commission and the state courts had found that his refusal of a request from David Mullins and Charlie Craig amounted to unlawful discrimination. The implications of the Supreme Court ruling are being debated, since Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s judgment focused on flaws in the proceedings before the commission, which indicated, he ruled, a departure from neutrality towards religious beliefs; but he also stated that Colorado’s laws could protect gay persons’ rights in acquiring goods and services.
Amnesty alleges ‘war crimes’ in Syria
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL has been criticised for its latest report on Syria, which states that parties to the conflict “committed war crimes and other grave violations of international humanitarian law and human rights abuses” during indiscriminate attacks and direct attacks on civilians during the ongoing seven-year war. This included the Syrian Government and allied forces in the West, including Russia and the United States, fighting IS militants. A spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, a Western-backed coalition, Colonel Ryan Dillon, told The Times this week however that Amnesty was ignorant of the lengths to which the coalition had gone to avoid civilian casualties. “War crimes — that’s strong language, and that’s why we are coming right back at them.” The Amnesty report states that “US-led coalition forces carried out attacks on IS in which civilians were killed and injured, at times violating international humanitarian law.”