Violence Grows Against Women and Children in Economic Deprivation of Yemen’s War

A recent study has revealed an increase in violence against women and children resulting from the conflict in Yemen.   Research by the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies shows women and girls in Yemen have been affected by rape, kidnapping and domestic violence, while boys face sexual violence and are forced to work. 
 
Yemen’s nearly five-year conflict is having disastrous consequences on its civilian population, according to the recent study, “A Gendered Crisis: Understanding Experiences of Yemen’s War.”
 
The qualitative research involving some 90 focus group discussions across Yemen’s political and socioeconomic classes found that unemployment has undermined men’s traditional role as breadwinner, driving many to seek a salary by fighting on the front lines. Rising poverty has left parents unable to educate their children.  The middle class has slipped into poverty and the poor into destitution.
 One of the authors, Shams Shamsan of the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies, says that the financial strain caused by the war has plunged the already impoverish nation at the tip of the Arabian Peninsula into a dire economic crisis making women, youth and children more vulnerable to exploitation and multiple forms of gender-based violence.
 
“Youth and kids are lured into sexual activity in exchange for money and sometimes materialistic things. Women report a lot of kidnapping and groping in the streets and they say there is a growing impunity towards predators who do that,” Shamsan said. “In the past, if a woman is harassed in the street, everybody would jump in to try to protect her, but now there is no such thing. People are usually scared.”
 UN: Yemen’s Children Suffer ‘Devastating Toll’ in 5-Year Conflict

        The United Nations said Monday that the five-year-old conflict in Yemen has taken a "devastating toll" on the country's children, with thousands killed, maimed and recruited to fight since the war began. "The impact of this conflict on children is horrific," Virginia Gamba, U.N. special representative for children and armed conflict, told a meeting of the Security Council. 

Shamsan says that Yemeni families forbid doctors to report cases of rape due to the social stigma attached to it in their culture.
Rights group Amnesty International also said recently that Yemen’s negative gender stereotypes and patriarchal attitudes, a discriminatory legal system, and economic inequality have compounded women’s vulnerability to violence.  Activists like Shamsan say that more needs to be done to protect children and women against the growing gender-based violence.
 
“We need to educate women and children on what is sexual violence. What does it mean when you get harassed,” Shamsan said. “Some kids get harassed and they don’t know they are being harassed. So, we need some sort of an awareness program to families and children and how to report. We have very little programs that work on psychosocial support. We need rehabilitation programs for those who experience sexual assault and sexual trauma.”
 
Shamsan says children and youth being sent to the frontlines also badly need psycho-social support and rehabilitation centers to help them integrate into society, otherwise they transfer their battlefield trauma into domestic violence.

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Measles Outbreaks Make 2019 a Record-Setting Year

The year 2019 saw a totally preventable disease claim the lives of more than 140,000 people, mostly children and babies. It happened as unvaccinated children created a pathway for measles outbreaks globally. Some of the outbreaks are still continuing.Samoan Emite Talaalevea lost her daughter. She says she never expected to see such grief.”I was shocked, it was very hard to me to accept what happened,” she said.Measles claimed the lives of some 81 people on the island, mostly children and infants. Robert Linkins, an expert on measles in the Global Immunization Division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the deaths were completely preventable.”Two shots of a vaccine could have saved those children’s lives.”The vaccination rate in Samoa dropped to about 30% after two children died from a measles vaccine that was mistakenly mixed with a muscle relaxant. People wrongly attributed the deaths to the vaccine, stopped vaccinating their children, then measles exploded on the island.Samoa has a population of 200,000. Some 5,600 people caught the virus. Linkins said because measles is so highly infectious, the disease spread rapidly.”The hospitals and health clinics were overrun with very sick children, and there weren’t enough health care workers and hospital beds to adequately deliver the services that they needed,” Linkins said.Medical teams went door-to-door with the vaccine. The goal was to get 95% of the population vaccinated. The Samoan government, Linkins said, turned to the CDC for help in stemming the epidemic.”[The] CDC also was asked to do training of health care workers to ensure safe vaccine delivery, as well as to monitor the quality of the immunization campaign that took place,” Linkins said.FILE – Children, their faces covered with masks, wait to get vaccinated against measles at a health clinic in Apia, Samoa, Nov. 18, 2019.In 2019, more 400,000 cases of measles were reported globally, with an additional 250,000 cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo alone.In the first three months of 2019, the number of measles cases tripled over the same period of 2018. Dr. Kate O’Brien, an immunization expert with the World Health Organization, cites many reasons children are not getting vaccinated.”The main reason for failure to vaccinate against measles is families, communities are not having access to the vaccine,” O’Brien said.Conflict and poor health systems in low income countries prevent families from vaccinating their children. But in rich countries, some parents are opting out of immunizations. The United States tops the list with 2.5 million children missing their first dose of the measles vaccine. Two doses are essential for immunization.
The CDC reported more than 1,200 cases of measles in 31 U.S. states by late December, the highest number in 25 years. Dr. Peter Hotez, a vaccinologist at Baylor College of Medicine, says the numbers are alarming.
“In the United States now, measles epidemics are becoming the new normal in this country, after we eliminated measles in 2000,” Hotez said.
 
In 2019, four European countries — Britain, Albania, the Czech Republic and Greece — lost their measles eradication status, meaning measles is now considered endemic in these countries.”In other words, we’re backsliding,” said Kate O’Brien with the WHO.Samoa ended its state of emergency over its measles outbreak just days before 2019 ended. But the resurgence of measles is still a global health problem. Some parents are complacent about the vaccine. Others have come to fear it more than the deadly virus itself. Unless this changes, experts say, there will be more deaths, and more outbreaks in 2020. 

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У «Нафтогазі» розповіли, скільки заплатить Росія за транзит газу

У Національній акціонерній компанії «Нафтогаз України» повідомили, які суми має заплатити Росія за транзит свого газу українською територією за новим контрактом.

Як повідомив на брифінгу в Києві голова «Нафтогазу України» Андрій Коболєв, ідеться про суму мінімально в 7,2 мільярда доларів. Цю суму, за його словами, російська сторона певною мірою прогарантувала відповідно до контракту, що передбачає мінімальні обсяги транзиту.

Відтак, сказав він, сума не може бути меншою, але може зрости в разі, якщо російський газовий монополіст «Газпром» вирішить транспортувати більші обсяги газу.

У такому разі додаткові обсяги, уточнив Коболєв, будуть транспортуватися за вищими ставками.

Яка саме буде узгоджена вартість транзиту, він не сказав.

30 грудня «Нафтогаз України» і «Газпром» підписали контракт на транзит російського газу до Європи з використанням української газотранспортної системи за правилами Європейського союзу на п’ятирічний термін із можливістю продовження. Термін нині чинного контракту збігає вранці 1 січня 2020 року.

Новий контракт передбачає, зокрема, транспортування мінімально 65 мільярдів кубометрів газу протягом 2020 року і мінімально по 40 мільярдів кубометрів наступними чотирма роками, за принципом «транспортуй або плати».

Міністр енергетики і захисту довкілля Олексій Оржель прогнозував, що Україна буде отримувати за транзит газу протягом наступних п’яти років орієнтовно по 2–3 мільярди доларів щорічно.

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Оператор ГТС України підписав останню угоду про транзит російського газу до Європи

ТОВ «Оператор ГТС України» підписало останню міжоператорську угоду, що була необхідна для забезпечення транзиту російського газу до Європи газотранспортною системою України за новим контрактом, що почне діяти 1 січня.

Як повідомила компанія, цю угоду підписали у Брюсселі зі словацьким оператором ГТС Eustream. Цей технічний договір про взаємодію (interconnection agreement) укладений за європейськими правилами, мовиться в повідомленні.

Попереднього дня, 30 грудня, таку угоду ОГТСУ підписав і з російським газовим монополістом «Газпром», який є водночас і оператором російської ГТС.

«Таким чином, новий український оператор ГТС підписав угоди зі всіма суміжними операторами, а саме – Польщі, Угорщини, Румунії, Молдови, Словаччини і Росії. Наразі створено всі необхідні технічні і правові підстави для успішного старту роботи незалежного Оператора ГТС України і для безперервного продовження транзиту газу через українську ГТС із Росії до європейських країн із 1 січня 2020 року», – повідомила компанія.

30 грудня Національна акціонерна компанія «Нафтогаз України» і російський газовий монополіст «Газпром» підписали контракт на транзит російського газу до Європи з використанням української газотранспортної системи за правилами Європейського союзу на п’ятирічний термін із можливістю продовження. Термін нині чинного контракту збігає вранці 1 січня 2020 року.

Як повідомив на брифінгу в Києві 31 грудня голова «Нафтогазу України» Андрій Коболєв, транзит російського природного газу територією України в 2020 році може сягнути 75 мільярдів кубометрів.

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China Investigates Respiratory Illness Outbreak Sickening 27

Chinese experts are investigating an outbreak of respiratory illness in the central city of Wuhan that some have likened to the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic.The city’s health commission said in a statement Tuesday that 27 people had fallen ill with a strain of viral pneumonia, seven of whom were in serious condition.It said most had visited a seafood market in the sprawling city, apparently pointing to a common origin of the outbreak.Unverified information online said the illnesses were caused by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which emerged from southern China and killed more than 700 people in several countries and regions. SARS was brought under control through quarantines and other extreme measures, but not before causing a virtual shutdown to travel in China and the region and taking a severe toll on the economy.However, the health commission said the cause of the outbreak was still unclear and called on citizens not to panic.

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Uber, Postmates Sue to Challenge California’s New Labor Law

Ride-share company Uber and on-demand meal delivery service Postmates sued Monday to block a broad new California law aimed at giving wage and benefit protections to people who work as independent contractors.The lawsuit filed in U.S. court in Los Angeles argues that the law set to take effect Wednesday violates federal and state constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process.Uber said it will try to link the lawsuit to another legal challenge filed in mid-December by associations representing freelance writers and photographers.The California Trucking Association filed the first challenge to the law in November on behalf of independent truckers.The law creates the nation’s strictest test by which workers must be considered employees and it could set a precedent for other states.The latest challenge includes two independent workers who wrote about their concerns with the new law.”This has thrown my life and the lives of more than a hundred(equals)thousand drivers into uncertainty,” ride-share driver Lydia Olson’s wrote in a Facebook post cited by Uber.Postmates driver Miguel Perez called on-demand work “a blessing” in a letter distributed by Uber. He said he used to drive a truck for 14 hours at a time, often overnight.”Sometimes, when I was behind the wheel, with an endless shift stretching out ahead of me like the open road, I daydreamed about a different kind of job — a job where I could choose when, where and how much I worked and still make enough money to feed my family,” he wrote.The lawsuit contends that the law exempts some industries but includes ride-share and delivery companies without a rational basis for distinguishing between them. It alleges that the law also infringes on workers’ rights to choose how they make a living and could void their existing contracts.Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego countered that she wrote the law to extend employee rights to more than a million California workers who lack benefits, including a minimum wage, mileage reimbursements, paid sick leave, medical coverage and disability pay for on-the-job injuries.She noted that Uber had previously sought an exemption when lawmakers were crafting the law, then said it would defend its existing labor model from legal challenges. It joined Lyft and DoorDash in a vow to each spend $30 million to overturn the law at the ballot box in 2020 if they don’t win concessions from lawmakers next year.”The one clear thing we know about Uber is they will do anything to try to exempt themselves from state regulations that make us all safer and their driver employees self-sufficient,” Gonzalez said in a statement. “In the meantime, Uber chief executives will continue to become billionaires while too many of their drivers are forced to sleep in their cars.’’The new law was a response to a legal ruling last year by the California Supreme Court regarding workers at the delivery company Dynamex.

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Huawei Sales Up 18% but US Pressure Means Tough Times Ahead

China’s Huawei Technologies said Tuesday that its sales rose a lower-than-projected 18% in 2019 and predicted tough times ahead as the U.S. moves to restrict its business.The flash sales estimate came in an annual New Year’s message to employees. Chairman Eric Xu warned that mediocre managers would face demotion as the telecom giant and leader in 5G mobile technology focuses on survival.”It’s going to be a difficult year for us,” he wrote, calling on the company’s more than 190,000 employees “to work hard and go the extra mile to bring their capabilities to a new level.”No one is predicting Huawei’s demise. The unlisted company, a major maker of both mobile transmission equipment and handsets, estimated 2019 sales would rise to more than 850 billion yuan ($120 billion).”These figures are lower than our initial projections, yet business remains solid and we stand strong in the face of adversity,” Xu said in the letter, which was released to the AP and other media.Huawei, based in the tech hub of Shenzhen in southern China, typically releases its official and audited annual financial results in March.The U.S. government says Huawei technology poses a security risk and has urged other countries not to buy its 5G mobile network equipment. It has also put Huawei on its entity list, blocking U.S. technology sales to the company. Huawei denies the allegation.Calling difficulty the prelude to greater success, Xu said America’s “strategic and long-term” campaign against Huawei is an opportunity to build up some muscle and build capabilities to navigate future challenges.”Despite concerted efforts by the U.S. government to keep us down, we’ve made it out the other side and continue to create value for our customers,” he wrote.The five-page letter exhorts employees to hone their skills and rid themselves of complacency. Saying that survival is the company’s top priority, Xu warns that mediocre managers “who have lost their enterprising spirit” will be removed faster than before.

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