NICK EICHER, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: World Tour with WORLD Africa correspondent Onize Ohikere.
ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: U.S. stops support for Saudis in Yemen » We start today in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia has agreed to let Houthi rebels evacuate wounded fighters to Oman. Foreign leaders welcomed the news as a big step toward peace in a conflict that has spawned a humanitarian crisis.
But intense fighting continues in the port city of Hodeida, where the Saudi-led coalition is trying to oust the rebels.
A Saudi spokesman on Monday said military pressure would continue until the Iran-backed Houthis agree to negotiations.
AUDIO: The operation is still going and it’s not true that there is a ceasefire in Hodeida. I think the coalition and all the members of the coalition and also the UN Security Council are taking all the efforts, to exert the effort to come to a political solution in Yemen.
The U.S. has faced mounting criticism for supporting the Saudi coalition amid thousands of civilian casualties. Over the weekend the U.S. announced it would stop in-flight refueling of Saudi planes, but critics called it little more than virtue signaling.
The UN estimates 14 million Yemeni civilians are at risk of starving to death in the coming months.
Religious liberty in Bulgaria » And now to Bulgaria, where lawmakers on Friday will hold the second and final reading of a law restricting religious freedom.
The proposed legislation grants the Eastern Orthodox Church and Muslims the exclusive right to train clergy and operate religious schools. It also reserves legal status to groups with more than 300 adherents and requires them to meet in designated buildings.
The restrictions caught Protestant groups by surprise. Baptists in Bulgaria joined peaceful protests outside parliament on Sunday.
AUDIO: [Sound from protest]
And Baptist World Alliance leaders urged the prime minister to intervene. They fear the law will, quote—“lead to… the direct persecution of churches and individuals of faith.”
North Korea continues missile program » Next to North Korea, where analysts suspect Pyongyang has continued building nuclear missiles despite halting test launches. A Washington-based think tank made that claim Monday after analyzing commercial satellite imagery. The Center for Strategic and International Studies says it has located 13 secret facilities used to produce missiles and related technology.
Vice President Mike Pence admitted denuclearization efforts have a long way to go.
PENCE: President Trump believes his relationship with Chairman Kim is good. And since their historic summit in Singapore in June, we’ve made good progress on the agreement that’s reached. But more work remains.
The Trump administration’s negotiations with North Korea appear to have stalled, though both sides say they want to continue nuclear talks. President Trump says he wants to hold a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un soon.
Ebola outbreak in Congo » Next we move here to Africa. I’m following developments in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where officials are battling the country’s worst-ever outbreak of Ebola. The disease has claimed 200 lives since August. And health workers have reported more than 300 cases of confirmed or probable infection.
AUDIO: [Health minister speaking in French]
In a video message posted to Twitter, the country’s health minister said, “No other epidemic in the world has been as complex as the one we are currently experiencing.”
The two regions with the most infections are also battling a refugee crisis amid ongoing conflict in the region. More than 1 million migrants and internally displaced people have thronged the area. Officials fear they could spread the disease to neighboring countries.
Decline in FGM » And finally, good news in Africa. Rates of female genital mutilation across the continent have declined significantly in the last three decades. That’s according to new research published in the British Medical Journal.
East Africa has seen the biggest reduction in the practice, often referred to as FGM. Two decades ago, almost three-fourths of girls under age 14 had suffered FGM. The rate there has since plummeted to under 10 percent.
That’s this week’s World Tour. I’m Onize Ohikere reporting from Abuja, Nigeria.