‘A child dies of preventable causes every 10 minutes’: Countries pledge $1.1bn to avert Yemen famine

Yet the $1.

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1 billion (1.0 billion euros) promised fell far short of the $2.1 billion the United Nations has estimated is needed this year alone in a country facing “a tragedy of immense proportions.”

But Guterres praised the generosity of donor nations, pointing out that such conferences generally do not gather more than a third of the requested amount.

This shows a “remarkable solidarity with the Yemeni people,” the UN secretary general told reporters.

“50 children in Yemen will die during today’s conference, and all those deaths could have been prevented.”

Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter, who along with his Swedish counterpart co-hosted the conference, also applauded the results but acknowledged that “we need even more.”

A big thank you to all the countries who pledged to increase #Aid4Yemen’s 19 million people in need of support. Solidarity with #Yemen. pic.twitter长沙桑拿按摩论坛,/YINtOyZOKd

— UN Refugee Agency (@Refugees) April 25, 2017

When opening the conference Tuesday morning, Guterres had said it was vital to act quickly.

“We are witnessing the starving and the crippling of an entire generation,” he said, adding that Yemen is gripped by “the world’s largest hunger crisis”.

He warned that children especially were already dying at an alarming rate, but stressed that “a famine can be prevented if we act quickly and commit to funding crucial life-saving assistance”.

The UN had already said back in February that it would need $2.1 billion to help avert famine in Yemen, but by the time Tuesday’s conference opened, that appeal had only been 15 percent funded.

RELATED READING’Writhing with hunger’

Yemen’s Prime Minister Ahmed Obaid Mubarek Bin-Dagher had urged donors to be generous, describing how some of his compatriots were “writhing with hunger”.

“$2.1 billion is the minimum that we should plan on raising,” he told the conference.

UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien meanwhile said that Yemen was “the world’s largest humanitarian crisis today.”

“We must do more and can do more,” he said, insisting that “we can, with your money and support, scale up, we can avert famine and the worst catastrophe.”

But O’Brien underlined that humanitarian aid alone would not resolve Yemen’s crisis.

“We need an immediate cessation of hostilities and a return to negotiations and peace,” he said.

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Yemen’s war has pitted pro-government forces against Iran-backed Huthi rebels and their allies, renegade troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

A Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 to help the government retake the capital Sanaa and swathes of the country’s north and west.

Fighting in Yemen has killed more than 7,700 people over the past two years and forced 3.3 million people to flee their homes, according to UN numbers.

All UN mediation attempts and seven declared ceasefires have so far failed.

Yemen is a forgotten crisis – here are 5 facts to know. #Aid4Yemen @UNHCRYemen pic.twitter长沙桑拿按摩论坛,/ufuDClrTwD

— UN Refugee Agency (@Refugees) April 25, 2017’50 children will die’

The conflict has dramatically deepened Yemen’s drawn-out humanitarian crisis, with a full 19 millions people — two-thirds of the population — now in need of humanitarian aid, the UN said.

A total of 17 million of them are going hungry, including more than two million children currently considered acutely malnourished.

“On average, a child under the age of five dies of preventable causes in Yemen every 10 minutes,” Guterres said.

“This means 50 children in Yemen will die during today’s conference, and all those deaths could have been prevented.”

Many of the children who survive “will be affected by stunting and poor health for their entire lives,” he added.

Anthony Lake, head of the UN children’s agency, urged the world to act immediately, warning that “these children cannot wait for an official famine to be declared.”

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom noted that with two million children out of school, there is a growing risk of recruitment by armed groups, while two-thirds of girls are married off before the age of 18.

“We must act now”, she said.

Group claims Russia metro bombing

A group called the Imam Shamil Battalion has claimed responsibility for a metro bombing in the Russian city of St.

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Petersburg that killed 16 people and says the bomber was acting on orders from al-Qaeda, according to the SITE monitoring group.

The claim on Tuesday by the little-known group was originally published by the Mauritanian news agency ANI, which is often used by West and North African jihadist groups to release statements.

The statement, posted by SITE on Tuesday, said the bomber, Akbarzhon Jalilov, had acted on instructions from al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, in the April 3 attack on the metro in Russia’s second biggest city.

“Following the instructions of Sheikh Ayman al-Zawahiri … the lion Akbarzhon Jalilov, one of the knights of Islam in the Imam Shamil Battalion, carried out a heroic operation … in the city of St. Petersburg, concurrent with the visit to it by the criminal (Russian President Vladimir) Putin,” it said.

It said the metro attack was revenge for Russian violence against Muslim countries, citing Syria and Libya as well as the Russian republic of Chechnya.

“To the Russian government, which apparently has not taken a lesson from its defeat in Afghanistan, we say: This operation is only the beginning, and what is to come will make you forget it, Allah permitting,” the statement read, implying there would be even more deadly attacks against Russia in the future.

Russian forces have intervened in the Syrian conflict in support of President Bashar al-Assad and are targeting jihadist fighters and others opposed to the Syrian leader.

Pendlebury laments poor AFL performance

Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury has played his worst AFL match in a decade, adding to their troubles as the pressure mounts on coach Nathan Buckley.

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Pendlebury said he was ill before the previous week’s loss to St Kilda, but offered no excuses for his poor Anzac Day performance amid speculation he is carrying an injury.

Pendlebury said he had done the most running against Essendon out of his five matches so far this season, but simply played poorly.

“Yesterday was my worst game that I’ve played in 10 years,” he said on a Collingwood podcast.

“I just wasn’t impactful.

“It certainly wasn’t through a lack of effort or running or workrate.”

Pendlebury only had 20 possessions against the Bombers and called it a shocker.

“I was very disappointed … I was very filthy I didn’t play my part,” he said.

“It doesn’t sit well, knowing you let the side down.

“Yesterday, I fell away – I played a bad game and it was a really bad game, it wasn’t serviceable even.”

While Collingwood are struggling at 1-4, Pendlebury said they had identified their problems and are working hard to fix them.

“We want to be smart with the footy – we want to be quick when we can, we want to go (through the) corridor when it’s open, we want to go boundary when that’s open,” he said.

“Clearly, we’re not executing that … it is something we’re working on.

“It’s going to take more than one week to fix, but hopefully it doesn’t take six or seven.”

The Magpies only have a five-day break before they played unbeaten Geelong, but Pendlebury does not see the short gap between games as a bad thing.

“Playing on a five-day break after a loss is the best thing that can happen,” he said.

“You get a chance to go back out there so quickly, you don’t have to wait.

“Last week, just waiting nine days to play Anzac Day after the St Kilda game, you want to get back out there as quick as you can, to address the issues.”

Two conflicting plans on how to deal with housing affordability

Housing analysts have today offered conflicting plans for how to tackle Australia’s housing affordability crisis.

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The Property Council of Australia has released a 10-point ‘Fixing Housing Affordability’ plan that proposes increasing the supply of homes, lowering housing production costs and phasing out stamp duty.

Chief executive Ken Morrison says the council also wants low deposit loans for first home buyers, similar to the so-called ‘Keystart’ scheme in Western Australia.

“It is very difficult for people on modest incomes to get into the housing market for the first time in our big cities,” Mr Morrison told SBS News.

“It’s tricky, because there’s a whole bunch of detailed policy that needs to happen at a state level and a local government level, and we do see a role for federal leadership.”

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The Australian Council of Social Service has released its own six-point plan, prioritising low to moderate earners.

“We need to get more growth in social and affordable housing, so social housing, which is for people on really low incomes, and then affordable housing for people on very modest incomes,” explained CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.

“We’ve got to set very clear targets and make sure that the income levels are factored into the financing arrangements.”

The future of negative gearing?

But a key point of contention between the two groups is whether negative gearing should stay or go. Dr Goldie believes the system must be phased out.

“Having a very careful transitioning away from tax concessions that benefit private property speculators, property investors that are looking for short-term capital growth,” she said.

The Property Council disagrees, and argues negative gearing should not be changed, as does the Housing Industry Association’s Graham Wolfe.

“The negative gearing helps investors come to the market, purchase off the plan, helps drive the construction and brings more supply into the marketplace,” Mr Wolfe told SBS News.

“All three levels of government are aware of the role that they play. What we do need, however, is those three levels to sit down constructively, in a coordinated way, to understand their roles.”

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All the housing groups do agree that, in Australia’s major cities, supply is a big problem. Mr Morrison says there simply are not enough homes for prospective owners, meaning there is little competition, or need to bring down prices.

“Fundamentally, we need policies which are targeting that supply, reducing the cost of new housing construction, ensure that we’ve got more housing coming through and that the housing-construction cycle that we’re in lasts longer,” he said.

It’s ‘tough’ out there

For many Australians, buying a home is not just tough, it is near impossible. Some parents have had to step in so their children can break into the market.

That includes Sydney couple Li Ping Yim and her husband Di Lin Zheng, who moved to Australia from China 19 years ago.

“For us, it’s okay. For the kids it’s very, very expensive,” Mrs Li told SBS News after inspecting a home on Sydney’s north shore.

“We help the kids. If all the kids, by themselves, buy the houses it’s very hard.”

But real estate agent Jimmy Psaltis said he is optimistic about the housing issue.

“It’s tough, it’s tough, but there’s still a lot (of homes). As long as you’re not too fussy, you’ll find something,” he said.

“There are houses that are affordable. It’s just a matter of what you can afford and not so much where you want to live.”

OPINION

Mr Wolfe believes that addressing the lack of housing, though, would go a long way to easing the burden on buyers.

“Our population is growing. We need to be building more homes,” he said.

“Now, in Sydney, where the population growth over the last three years has been a quarter of a million extra people, we need homes for those people to live in.

“Housing affordability is a national issue for us, something that needs to be resolved and something that’s going to take all three levels of government to address.”

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THE FEED: Could Tamworth be the solution to housing affordability?

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News of pregnancy an accident: Serena

Serena Williams had no intention of sharing her pregnancy with the world last week but spilled the beans when she accidentally uploaded the “20 weeks” photo of herself on Snapchat, the world No.

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1 said on Tuesday.

Williams, who was wearing a yellow swimsuit in the ‘selfie’, quickly deleted the post but later confirmed her pregnancy via her publicist after frenzied speculation.

She told the TED conference in Vancouver that the photo was intended only for her personal records.

“I have this thing where I’ve been checking my status and taking pictures every week to see how far along I’m getting,” the 35-year-old said in an on-stage chat with journalist Gayle King.

“I was just saving them (for myself)” said Williams. “I’ve been so good about it, but this was the one time it slipped.”

Williams said she had found out she was pregnant only two days before the Australian Open in January, which she went on to win for her 23rd grand slam title.

“It wasn’t very easy. You hear all these stories about people when they’re pregnant — they get sick, they get really tired, really stressed out,” she said.

“I had to really take all that energy and put it in a paper bag, so to say, and throw it away.

“Pregnant or not, no one knew and I was supposed to win that tournament. Every time I play, I’m expected to win. If I don’t win, it’s actually much bigger news.”

Williams, who is taking maternity leave for the rest of the 2017 season, said there was no change to her plan to return to the tour as a mother next year.

“I definitely plan on coming back. I’m not done yet,” said Williams, who credited her 36-year-old sister Venus, a seven-times grand slam champion, for inspiration.

“If she’s still playing, I know I can play.

“This (motherhood) is just a new part of my life. My baby’s going to be in the stands and hopefully cheering for me.”