World Tour: War crimes in Yemen, and Putin suffers election setback

NICK EICHER, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: World Tour with WORLD’s Africa correspondent Onize Ohikere.

ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: War crimes in Yemen—We start today in the Middle East.

AUDIO: [Sound of Yemen rally]

Residents in southern Yemen rallied last week to show support for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Both countries support Yemen’s official government. It’s locked in a five-year battle with Houthi rebels trying to take over the country.

But the coalition backing the government has started to splinter. At another recent rally, thousands gathered to protest UAE support for a rebel group now at odds with its former government allies.

During a visit to Saudi Arabia last week, Assistant Secretary of State David Schenker said the United States is working to negotiate peace.

SCHENKER: We are narrowly focused on trying to end the war in Yemen. We are in close contact with our Saudi partners and we are also having talks, to the extent possible, with the Houthis to try and find a mutually acceptable negotiated solution to the conflict.

But a United Nations panel tasked with investigating war crimes in Yemen says America is part of the problem. Charles Garraway is a member of the UN panel.

GARRAWAY: There are certain states who are well known to be supplying weapons, that includes United States, that includes United Kingdom, that includes France, to name but three. On the other side, it is reported that Iran maybe supplies weapons to the Houthis.

The UN panel accused both sides of the conflict of targeting civilians. And it compiled a list of 160 people who could be charged with war crimes.

Churches destroyed in Syria—Next we go to Syria.

A Syrian war monitor says fighting has destroyed more than 120 Christian churches there. The unsuccessful effort to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad’s government has dragged on for eight years.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights blames government forces for 60 percent of the attacks on churches. It blamed the rest on ISIS and other terror groups.

The Syrian government rarely responds to such reports, but it did in this case. It denied intentionally targeting Christians.

Before the war, Christians made up about 10 percent of the country’s population. They now make up about 3 percent.

Putin suffers setback in Moscow elections—Next we go to Russia.

AUDIO: [Putin casts vote]

President Vladimir Putin made a big show of casting his ballot in local elections on Sunday. But his party suffered a major defeat in Moscow and the country’s Far East.

Opposition leader Alexei Navalny called the election outcome a “terrific result.” But more opposition candidates might have won—if they’d been allowed on the ballot.

Election officials refused to register a dozen independent candidates before the election. That prompted major protests throughout the summer.

And now the United Nations wants an investigation into violence against protesters. Michelle Bachelet is the UN high commissioner for human rights.

BACHELET: I support calls by the Presidential Council on Human Rights for investigations into allegations of excessive use of force by the police, and I urge the authorities to uphold freedom of expression, the right to peaceful assembly, and the right to participate in public affairs.

Pope visits Africa—And finally, we end today here in Africa.

AUDIO: [Pope Francis return [fade under]

Pope Francis returned to the Vatican Tuesday after spending a week in Madagascar, Mozambique, and Mauritius.

Francis addressed issues of poverty, corruption, and environmental concerns during his trip. It was the pope’s second visit to sub-Saharan Africa, one of the few places where Catholic communities are growing.

That’s this week’s World Tour. For WORLD Radio, I’m Onize Ohikere reporting from Abuja, Nigeria.

(Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP) Russian President Vladimir Putin casts his ballot at a polling station during a city council election in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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