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News Making International Headlines: 18 January 2022

Yemeni Backed by UEA Have Joined Coalition Troops

INTERNATIONAL: Yemeni forces backed by the United Arab Emirates have joined coalition troops fighting the Houthi movement around the central city of Marib in a renewed push to secure the prize of an energy-producing region.

The battle for Marib, where the Iran-aligned Houthis had advanced on most districts barring the main city and nearby hydrocarbon sites, has dashed hopes for any imminent truce that the United Nations and the United States have struggled to engineer.

U.N. special envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, has told the Security Council on Wednesday that both sides are "doubling down on military options" and has warned of devastating implications for civilians and immediate peace prospects.

The nearly seven-year-old conflict, largely seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, has killed tens of thousands of people, displaced millions and pushed Yemen to the verge of famine as the economy collapsed.

Over the past month, fighting in al-Jawf in the north, Marib in central Yemen and Shabwa in the south has displaced more than 15,000 people, according to the United Nations.

The conflict is a multifaceted one with several Yemeni factions vying for power. The UAE largely ended its military presence on the ground in 2019 amid a military stalemate but continues to hold sway via Yemeni forces it armed and trained.

The Houthis, who say they are fighting a corrupt system and foreign aggression, largely control the north while the government is based in the south, where protests have erupted last year over the deteriorating economic situation.

Tonga Remains Cut Off After Massive Eruption

An underwater volcano near Tonga has erupted for the third time in four days, potentially threatening the ability of surveillance flights to assess the damage to the Pacific island nation following Saturday's massive eruption and tsunami.

Australia's meteorological service has said a "large eruption" took place at the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano on Monday, but no tsunami warnings have been issued.

Saturday's eruption was likely the biggest recorded anywhere on the planet in more than 30 years, according to experts. Dramatic images from space has captured the eruption in real time, as a huge plume of ash, gas and steam was spewed up to 20 kilometers into the atmosphere -- and tsunami waves were sent crashing across the Pacific

A footage shows people fleeing as waves inundated Tonga's capital, Nuku'alofa, and the afternoon sky has turned pitch black due to the heavy ash cloud. Tsunami waves were also recorded thousands of miles away along the United States West Coast, in Peru, New Zealand and Japan. In Peru, at least two people died after being swept up by high waves.

No mass casualties have yet been reported, but aid organizations are concerned about contaminated air and access to clean water for people in Tonga's outlying islands.

With communications down, Australia and New Zealand sent flights to survey the damage.

Greek Ambulance Driver Used Vehicle to Transport Drugs

An ambulance driver in Greece has been arrested after using his ambulance to conduct drug deals and transport bags full of drugs from the Greek border to the country's capital.

The 41-year old driver, who worked for a medical clinic in Athens, was arrested in the north-western town of Igoumenitsa on Saturday .

According to police he was using the ambulance in his spare time, without the knowledge of the private clinic, to transfer large amounts of cannabis from the Greek-Albanian border to Athens in order to avoid detection.

The curiosity of police in Igoumenitsa was sparked when they saw the ambulance driving through the town and then returning again an hour later. The Greek - Albanian border is some 20 kilometres from the town. 

A local police chief, Ioannis Pappas has said, it was odd for an ambulance from a private Athens clinic to be driving around the town on a Saturday morning, and since ambulances have been used in the past to transport illegal migrants across the border, police decided to stopped the vehicle for a check.

When they opened the back of the ambulance they found 13 duffle bags filled with 129 packages of raw cannabis, weighing more than 319 kilograms.

When the driver was questioned about the contents of the bag, in an effort to avoid being caught, he insisted to police not to touch or open the bags as they contained hazardous biological material.

He also had 900 euros and three mobile phones in his possession, as well as a small amount of cocaine.

He was arrested for the possession, transport and trafficking of drugs. The cannabis was transferred to a warehouse where it will be destroyed.

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