The international community has not a moment to lose if it is to help end the fighting in Yemen and broker a lasting peace for the country, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced today as he urged stakeholders to “make the most of the momentum of opportunity.”
Briefing the press at the UN Office in Geneva at the opening of consultations on the situation in the Gulf state, the Secretary-General explained that as total casualty figures surpassed 2,600, the UN and Member States retained “a special obligation to act.”
“Today, Yemen’s very existence hangs in the balance. While parties bicker, Yemen burns,” Mr. Ban told reporters.
“The parties have a responsibility to end the fighting and begin a real process of peace and reconciliation.”
The ongoing hostilities in Yemen have only deepened its already existent humanitarian crisis, plunging the country’s civilians even further into despair. Already the poorest nation in the Gulf region prior to the fighting, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) recently stressed that more than 15 million Yemenis do not have access to basic healthcare, with 53 health facilities closed and malnutrition increasing. Eighty per cent of the country’s population is currently in need of critical humanitarian aid.
In addition, the country’s extensive archaeological and historic heritage has been increasingly under threat following a surge in aerial bombing raids in the Old City of Sana'a, Yemen’s capital.
The Secretary-General warned that the ongoing fighting was also feeding into the growth of “ruthless” terrorist groups and risked transforming Yemen into a ticking “time bomb.”
“We don’t have a moment to lose” declared Mr. Ban, adding: “The region simply cannot sustain another open wound like Syria and Libya. We must find a way to end the suffering and begin the long road to peace.”
To that point, Mr. Ban added, there was reason for hope, as he delineated his call for action involving a renewed humanitarian pause to commence in time for the holy month of Ramadan; the agreement for local ceasefires as a pathway towards a lasting nationwide ceasefire; and a call for all Yemeni stakeholders to resume “a peaceful and orderly political transition.”
“Once again, Yemen faces a hard road,” the Secretary-General concluded. “But I hope that this week will mark the beginning of the end of fighting – and the start of a new and better future the people of Yemen so desperately deserve.”