The United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen met Government representatives on Thursday at the start of what were due to be the first peace talks involving both warring parties to be held in two years, vowing to “overcome obstacles” which have so far prevented the Houthi rebel delegation from showing up.
Martin Griffiths met the delegation headed by Yemen's Minister of Foreign Affairs Khaled al Yamani, where, according to a statement issued by the Envoy, they discussed “the expectations of these consultations and relevant issues to the peace process, in particular Confidence Building Measures.”
The Special Envoy thanked the Yemeni Government for “their positive engagement with his efforts to relaunch the peace process” and acknowledged the efforts made by them and the Saudi-led Coalition that is supporting their military campaign to oust Houthi rebels from the country, “to facilitate the convening of these consultations.”
Fighting between the two sides which escalated in 2015, has caused a humanitarian crisis which has put nearly eight million on the edge of starvation, sparking the world’s worst cholera epidemic and leaving the vast majority of Yemenis in need of aid.
According to news reports, the Houthi delegation was either unable or unwilling to leave the capital Sana’a to attend the consultations, and the Government has reportedly given a 24-hour deadline for them to arrive in the Swiss capital.
Mr. Griffith reiterated the need to reach “an inclusive political solution to the conflict in Yemen. Yemeni people who live under dire humanitarian, economic and security conditions hope for a quick settlement of the conflict."
He added that he was “mindful of the challenges associated with bringing the parties together to Geneva, bearing in mind that they haven’t met for two years” and said he was hopeful to see the Houthi delegates arrive.
“He continues to make efforts to overcome obstacles to allow the consultations to go forward,” the statement concluded.