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Yemen: Head of UN mission monitoring Hodeidah ceasefire arrives | News

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The head of a United Nations mission tasked with monitoring a fragile ceasefire in the Yemen’s strategic port city of Hodeidah has arrived Aden.

Patrick Cammaert, a retired Dutch general, with experience in Sri Lanka, Cambodia and DR Congo, arrived in the southern city of Aden on Saturday, and is due to meet with government representatives before travelling to the rebel-held capital Sanaa and onwards to Hodeidah.

Cammaert’s team will secure the functioning of Hodeidah port, a key gateway for aid and food imports in the impoverished nation, as well as supervise the withdrawal of fighters from the flashpoint city.

His team’s arrival comes a day after the UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution authorising the deployment of observers to Hodeidah, following negotiations in Sweden last week.

The ceasefire in Hodeidah, between Saudi-backed government forces and Houthi rebels, is seen as the first significant breakthrough in peace efforts since the war erupted in 2014.

The agreement was brokered at talks in Rimbo, some 60km north of the Swedish capital Stockholm, where a number of other confidence-building steps were agreed to boost confidence between the warring sides.

This includes a planned prisoner swap involving some 16,000 detainees.

‘Yemenis haven’t been forgotten’

Western nations have pressed the Saudi-UAE coalition to end the nearly four-year war in Yemen that has killed an estimated 60,000 people.

According to Save The Children, as many as 85,000 children may have starved to death.

On December 8, the UN said that as many as 20 million people in Yemen were “food insecure,” calling the situation the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis”.

Louis Charbonneau, the UN director for Human Rights Watch, said the resolution “sends an important message to the suffering people of Yemen that they haven’t been forgotten.”

Charbonneau also called on the Security Council to consider imposing “targeted sanctions” on those who violated the laws of war in Yemen, including “senior Saudi, Emirati and Houthi officials

The Saudi-UAE coalition, which receives arms and intelligence from the West, intervened in March 2015 to restore the government of Hadi who was toppled by the Houthis months earlier.






WATCH: Will the ceasefire in Yemen hold? (25:00)


SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies

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Ottawa families give mixed reviews for online schooling

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So, how’s it going with online school? Families reached by CBC Ottawa seem to have mixed reviews. 

Masuma Khan is a mother of two. Her seven-year-old, Hana Wyndham in Grade 2, is attending French immersion virtual school. Masuma is grateful it’s an option, but can’t help notice a lot of down time.

“There’s a lot of, ‘are you on mute?’ In terms of the amount of learning that’s actually happening, it does seem to be not that high,” said Masuma.

Parents who kept their children at home this fall are in the minority, but they still form a significant chunk of families in Ottawa.

In the city’s largest school board, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), about 27 per cent of elementary students and 22 per cent of high school students chose online learning. The Ottawa Catholic School Board says roughly a quarter of its students are online.

For Masuma, the decision to keep her daughter home was complex: extended family members are immunocompromised and she worried the in-person learning environment would be unpleasant because of precautions. She also felt her daughter might benefit from being supported at home.

“She doesn’t necessarily enjoy school. I also found out during the pandemic that she was being bullied [last year],” said Masuma. “So I thought, why not try from home?”

To help her daughter socialize face-to-face with other kids, Masuma enrolled Hana in Baxter Forest School, an alternative education program where kids spend most of their time outside, one day a week. Hana also attends virtual Arabic classes two days a week after school. 

Masuma’s husband and Hana share the living room work space, and Masuma admits he does the lion’s share of helping their daughter stay on task. There is a possibility that he’ll be required to return to his office in the new year.

“When he goes back to work … it’s probably going to be a little bit more difficult.”

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No school closures after Christmas holiday break, says Ontario education minister

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Ontario elementary and secondary schools will not close for an extended winter break, says Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

Closures aren’t needed given Ontario’s “strong safety protocols, low levels of (COVID-19) transmission and safety within our schools,” Lecce announced Wednesday afternoon. He said he had consulted with Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams and the province’s public health measures advisory table.

That ended speculation about school buildings remaining closed in January for a period of time after the Christmas break.

Earlier in the week, Lecce told reporters the government was considering having students spend “some period out of class” in January, perhaps switching to online learning.

In a statement, Lecce said that even though rates of community transmission of COVID-19 are increasing, “schools have been remarkably successful at minimizing outbreaks to ensure that our kids stay safe and learning in their classrooms.”

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Windy start to the week in Ottawa

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OTTAWA — It’s a blustery Monday in the capital with wind gusts of up to 50 km/hour expected throughout the day.

Environment Canada is forecasting a high of 4 C with a 60 per cent chance of showers or flurries before the wind dies down later this evening.

There’s a chance of flurries on Tuesday as well with a high of -1 C. The overnight low will dip to an unseasonal -9 C.  

Wednesday’s high will be just -5 C with lots of sunshine.

Seasonal temperatures return for the rest of the week..

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