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Saudi Arabia recruited Darfur children to fight in Yemen: NYT | News

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Saudi Arabia recruited children from Sudan’s conflict-ravaged Darfur region to fight on the frontlines of its war in Yemen, the New York Times has reported.

The kingdom offered desperate Sudanese families as much as $10,000 to enlist their children to fight in the nearly four-year-old war against Iran-aligned Houthi rebels, the Times said on Friday.

Led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia, along with the United Arab Emirates, intervened in Yemen in 2015 in support of the internationally recognised President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Sudan joined the Saudi-led alliance, deploying thousands of ground troops to Yemen. 

Five Sudanese fighters who had returned from Yemen told the Times that children made up between 20- 40 percent of their units in Yemen.

Many of the child soldiers were aged 14 to 17, the report said, and were often sent off to war by their families, some of whom were so eager for the money that they bribed officers of the Sudanese units in Yemen to let their sons go fight, the Times said. 

“Families know that the only way their lives will change is if their sons join the war and bring them back money,” Hager Shomo Ahmed told the Times.

The returned fighter is now 16, but was recruited to fight in Yemen in 2016 when he was 14 years old.






WATCH: Hodeidah ceasefire – UN monitors meet both sides in port city (2:06)

At any time in the past four years, as many as 14,000 Sudanese people have been fighting in the Gulf country alongside Yemeni-armed groups backed by the Saudis, the newspaper said, quoting returnees as well as Sudanese lawmakers.

Darfur survivors 

The Times said almost all of the Sudanese fighters appear come from the impoverished region of Darfur, where some 300,000 people were killed after mostly non-Arab rebels rose up against Khartoum in 2003.

Most of them belonged to the Rapid Support Forces, a paramilitary group known as Janjaweed, which was blamed for the systematic rape of women and girls, indiscriminate killing and other war crimes.

The fighters told the Times that while in Yemen, the Saudis and Emirates overseeing the Sudanese units commanded them almost exclusively by remote control so that they could keep a safe distance from the battle lines.

“They never fought with us,” Mohamed Suleiman al-Fadil said, while a 25-year-old fighter identified as Ahmed told the newspaper: “They treat the Sudanese like their firewood.”

Hundreds of Sudanese fighters have been killed in Yemen, according to the Times

A spokesperson for the Saudi-led coalition denied recruiting Sudanese children in a statement to the newspaper, labelling the allegations “fictitious and unfounded”.

The Times said Babikir Elsiddig Elamin, a spokesman for Sudan’s Foreign Ministry, declined to comment on troop levels, casualties or paychecks in Yemen. He told the newspaper that Sudan was fighting “in the interest of regional peace and stability.”

The Sudanese ground troops have made it easier for the Saudis and Emiratis to extend the war in Yemen, by insulating them from casualties that might test the patience of families at home, the Times said. 

The war in Yemen has killed more than 60,000 people, according to the war monitor Armed Conflict Location and Event Data, and has pushed the already impoverished country to the verge of famine.

The United Nations said the conflict there has triggered the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. 

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When Ontario declared a COVID-19 health emergency last spring, the first instinct of Ottawa entrepreneur Peter O’Blenis was to preserve cash.

“We basically stopped our discretionary spending,” said O’Blenis, the co-founder and CEO of Evidence Partners, which makes software for accelerating the review of scientific and medical literature, using artificial intelligence. “We cut investments in things meant to help us grow.”

It was a defensive posture born of experience. O’Blenis had 12 years earlier nearly been crushed by the global financial crisis. Another looked to be on the way.

In 2008, O’Blenis and his colleagues, Jonathan Barker and Ian Stefanison, hit a brick wall with their first venture, TrialStat, which helped hospitals manage patients’ electronic data. While TrialStat had secured $5.5 million in venture financing just a couple of years earlier, the founders had burned through most of it during a rapid expansion. When the financial world collapsed, so did their firm.

The trio played things far more conservatively with Evidence Partners, which has relied almost exclusively on customer revenues to finance expansion.

The caution proved unnecessary. Like so many other businesses, O’Blenis underestimated the government’s willingness to keep the economy afloat with easy money. Nor did he anticipate that COVID-19 would prove a significant catalyst for the firm’s revenues so soon.

Evidence Partners is hardly the only local firm with technology particularly suited for the war against COVID-19. Spartan Bioscience and DNA Genotek adapted existing products to create technology for identifying the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. Ottawa-based units of Abbott Laboratories and Siemens Healthineers make portable blood analyzers that diagnose patients afflicted by the virus.

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Shepherds of Good Hope wants to expand ByWard Market operation with eight-storey housing complex

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The Shepherds of Good Hope plans to build an eight-storey building near its current shelter for the homeless in the ByWard Market that would include supportive housing for up to 48 people, a soup kitchen and a drop-in centre.

The organization says it wants to be part of the solution to the housing crisis that has fuelled a rise in homelessness in Ottawa.

People would be moved out of the emergency shelters and into their own tiny apartments in the complex, which would include a communal dining hall and staff available to help with mental health, addiction and medical problems, said Caroline Cox, senior manager of communications for the Shepherds.

Some residents in the neighbourhood are opposed, saying services for the homeless and vulnerable should not be concentrated in one area of the city.

“I was flabbergasted,” said homeowner Brian Nolan, who lives one block from the development proposed for 216 Murray St., where currently a one-story building houses offices for the Shepherds of Good Hope.

Nolan said that, in the 15 years he’s lived in the area, it has become increasingly unsafe, with home and car thefts, drug dealing, loitering, aggressive and erratic behaviour, urinating, defecating and vomiting on sidewalks and yards and sexual acts conducted in public on his dead-end street. Before he lets his son play basketball in the yard, he checks the ground for needles and his home security camera to see who is nearby.

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Carleton University Hosts the Forum Lecture: Towards a Feminist Post-COVID City

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evehe Carleton University Forum Lecture: Towards a Feminist Post-COVID City given by Leslie Kern launches Ottawa Architecture Week. Urban geographer, author and academic, Kern will discuss how the pandemic has highlighted long-standing inequalities in the design, use and inclusivity of urban spaces. The talk will share some of the core principles behind a feminist urban vision to inform a wider vision of justice, equity and sustainability.

When
: Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021 at 6:30 p.m.
Registration: https://alumni.carleton.ca/event-registration-architecture-forum-series-with-leslie-kern-2/.

About the Speaker

Kern holds a PhD in Women’s Studies from York University. She is currently an associate professor of Geography and Environment and director of Women’s and Gender Studies at Mount Allison University.

Kern is the author of two books on gender and cities, including Feminist City: Claiming Space in a Man-Made World (Verso). The book discusses how our cities have failed in terms of fear, motherhood, friendship, activism, the joy and perils of being alone, and also imagines what they could become.

Kern argues, “The pandemic has shown us that society can be radically reorganized if necessary. Let’s carry that lesson into creating the non-sexist city.”

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