The UN Secretary-General on Tuesday welcomed the announcement by Saudi Arabia of steps aimed at helping end the fighting and restart the political process in Yemen.
In a statement issued by his Spokesperson, António Guterres said that he welcomed all steps proposed on Monday, “aimed at bringing the parties closer to a resolution” in line with the efforts being made by his Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, to secure an elusive nationwide ceasefire.
A Saudi-led coalition in support of the internationally recognized Government of Yemen, has been fighting Houthi opposition fighters, formally known as Ansar Allah, for control of the country since early 2015, following years of civil unrest and instability.
Tens of thousands have died, and close to 21 million Yemenis need some sort of assistance and protection, according to the UN humanitarian coordination office, OCHA, including 11.3 million children.
Further aims of the UN Special Envoy which align with the Saudi initiative, include the re-opening of Sana’a airport, and the regular flow of fuel and other commodities into Yemen through the crucial Red Sea port of Hudaydah.
Both are currently under the control of the Houthis, who reportedly responded to the Saudis by saying that the offer fell short of lifting the Saudi-imposed blockade of the airport and port.
Mr. Guterres said he welcomed any move that would bring an inclusive political process closer to fruition, and “to reach a comprehensive negotiated settlement to end the conflict.”
“As the conflict in Yemen enters its seventh year, Yemenis continue to face a dire humanitarian situation, including the prospect of a large-scale famine, while a significant funding gap remains”, said the statement from the UN chief.
“Underlining that the needs of the Yemeni people must be put above any other considerations, the Secretary-General calls for fuel ships to be urgently allowed into the port of Hudaydah and for the removal of obstacles to domestic distribution.”
Mr. Guterres urged the warring parties to “seize this opportunity and work with his Special Envoy on the way forward in good faith and without preconditions.”
He said that everyone involved in the fighting and with a stake in a lasting peace for the war-torn Arab nation, “must do their utmost to facilitate an immediate agreement”.