‘Yemen is ablaze,’ UN envoy tells Security Council, pressing for peace talks to end civilian suffering

23 October 2015

Citing the disastrous humanitarian consequences of the crisis in Yemen, the United Nations special envoy on the situation told the Security Council today that the ongoing violence has left the country “bleeding and its cities collapsing,” and he added that peace talks are the only way to restore the hope of Yemeni people “after all the suffering…crisis they have been victims of.”

In his briefing to the Council, UN Special Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said the ongoing fighting has levied a heavy toll on Yemen’s civilian population, which has been left with no access to even the basic necessities for survival.

“The last [UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs] report indicates that the majority of Yemenis need humanitarian aid. Twenty million Yeminis don’t have access to potable water. At least 500,000 children are suffering from malnutrition,” said Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed.

He informed Council members the recent deadly shelling of Taiz has left the highland city “in tatters” and has led to interruption of humanitarian services in many regions.

“Humanitarian aid, which is supposed to flow freely, is not reaching the people of Taiz leading to a grave crisis in terms of medicines. Today, a large majority of the inhabitants are left without potable water, which poses a threat to the safety and health of these people,” he added.

Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed further added that extremists groups are rapidly taking advantage of the situation. He pointed out that the groups have attacked Government headquarters in Aden and a mosque in the capital, Sana’a, during prayers for Eid, which have led to many civilian casualties.

The Special Envoy stressed that all parties to the conflict must return to the negotiating table towards reaching a peaceful solution, noting earlier efforts to allow a meeting between the conflict parties had not materialized.

“Excellent ideas were heard but they haven’t allowed us to put an end to the suffering of the Yemeni people. The Parties of the conflicts even failed to meet face-to-face. And it is very important to say here that the first attempt at talks took place nearly five months ago,” said Mr. Ismail.

He also pointed out that an initiative he had undertaken to convene consultations regarding Yemen was cancelled due to pre-conditions set.

“These missed opportunities weigh heavily on the well-being of the people of Yemen and their future is completely uncertain today,” said the Special Envoy.

However, Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed informed the Council that he has been in conversation with both Houthis and the Yemini Government and added that both parties have reiterated their intention to abide by Security Council resolution 2216 (2015) and to hand over their weapons.

“I trust that face-to-face discussions, which will be the first of the kind, will allow us to bring together the Government and the Houthis in order to pave the way to peace in Yemen and to open peaceful political dialogue to move into a new transitional state,” said Mr. Ismail.

He further added that, in a letter on 19th October, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, President of Yemen, informed the Secretary-General of his intention to send a delegation to participate in peace talks and negotiations in the frameworks stipulated by resolution 2216 (2015).

Further, Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed added that he had recently travelled to Middle East to meet leaders from Saudi Arabia and Russia to inform them about the latest developments in Yemen, and his discussion with the Houthis.

He also spoke of his meeting with the Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), whose initiatives to resolve the Yemeni conflict could bolster the conditions for national dialogue in Yemen.

Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed explained that the initiatives drawn by the GCC, along with his own proposals would include withdrawal of extremism from key cities, release of prisoners, return of weapons, improvements in humanitarian situation and the resumption of inclusive political dialogue.

“All this will mark a new page in Yemen’s history […] All parties today are aware that there can be no military solution to the conflict and that only peace talks works and dialogue will pave a road to a better future,” said Mr. Ismail.

Lastly, he appealed to the Council to support and protect the initiatives undertaken and to encourage all parties to move forward in order to put an end to this conflict.

Shortly after the briefing, the Security Council issued a press statement reiterating its demand for the full implementation of relevant Council resolutions, and reiterated its call from resolution 2216 (2015) on all Yemeni parties to resume and accelerate United Nations-brokered inclusive political consultations.

The members of the Council also reaffirmed their call on Yemeni parties to attend the announced talks and any such future talks and engage without preconditions and in good faith, including by resolving their differences through dialogue and consultations, rejecting acts of violence to achieve political goals, and refraining from provocation and all unilateral actions to undermine the political transition.


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