Following a successful presidential election last month, Yemen must continue making progress in its transition process to address a growing humanitarian crisis as well as a precarious security situation, the United Nations envoy to the country said today.
On 21 February, thousands of Yemenis headed to the polls to vote in presidential elections, which resulted in the victory of Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi Mansour. The Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Yemen, Jamal Benomar, who has been working closely with Yemeni authorities to implement a transition roadmap, congratulated the country on the high turnout, calling it an important development in the country.
“Turnout was much higher than many people had expected and many youth participated and voted for the new president,” Mr. Benomar told reporters in New York following a closed-door session with the Security Council. “President Mansour now has a strong mandate to lead this transition.”
Mr. Benomar, who recently visited Yemen, said that a new phase in the transition process is starting and stressed that there are many challenges laying ahead, including the organization of a national dialogue conference, constitution reform as well as reform of the electoral system, and organization of general elections by the end of the transition period in two years.
In his briefing to the Council, the envoy highlighted the economic, security and political challenges ahead. In particular, he expressed concern about Al-Qaida controlling certain regions in the southern part of the country.
“In the long months of the crisis, the State lost control as it collapsed in a number of areas around the country, benefiting Al-Qaida, and this is now going to be a major challenge in this new phase,” he said.
Mr. Benomar also emphasized that there is a growing humanitarian crisis in the country as 6.8 million Yemenis experience food insecurity, with three million in need of immediate assistance. Yemen also has the second highest rate of chronic malnutrition in children in the world after Afghanistan.
The envoy called on the international community “to support Yemen in this time of need, both in the humanitarian front and also for Yemen’s economic recovery.” Currently the $446 million humanitarian appeal for the country is funded at only 15 per cent.
Council members, in a statement issued to the press, strongly condemned the recent terrorist attacks that occurred in Abyan, which, according to media reports, killed some 185 Yemeni soldiers.
“They expressed their deep sympathy and sincere condolences to the victims of these heinous acts and to their families, and to the people and Government of the Republic of Yemen,” said the statement.
Sunday’s attacks, as well as the bombing on 25 February at the Presidential Palace in Mukalla that killed at least 26 officers, were also strongly condemned by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
“The Secretary-General wishes to re-emphasize that peace, security and stability can only be achieved through an inclusive political engagement. In this regard, he calls on all sides in Yemen to prepare for a transparent, inclusive and meaningful national dialogue process,” his spokesperson said in a statement.