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Yemen’s plight echoes broader Middle East crisis, says UN Envoy

Stranded migrants are living in harsh conditions in western Yemen.
© IOM/Rami Ibrahim
Stranded migrants are living in harsh conditions in western Yemen.

Yemen’s plight echoes broader Middle East crisis, says UN Envoy

Peace and Security

As tensions worsen across the Middle East region, Yemen’s plight has become increasingly intertwined with wider geopolitical dynamics, the UN Special Envoy for the country said on Monday.

Hans Grundberg underscored the urgent need for de-escalation, warning of the perilous consequences of overlooking Yemen’s fragile stability amidst the broader regional crisis.

We cannot risk Yemen’s chance for peace, becoming collateral damage,” he told ambassadors at the UN Security Council.

“If we leave Yemen’s political process in the waiting room and continue down this path of escalation, the consequences could be catastrophic, not only for Yemen, but also for the wider region,” he warned.

Special Envoy Hans Grundberg briefing the Security Council.

Worsening situation

Mr. Grundberg warned of the threat of further escalation as fighting continues in Gaza.

“The recent developments involving Iran and Israel underscore the urgency of this matter,” he said, stressing the region must, “with the support of the international community, seek avenues for coexistence based on incremental trust-building, mutual security, and a departure from the zero-sum mentality of achieving victory at the expense of others.”

At the same time, the situation within Yemen remains volatile with the Houthi rebels – also known as the Ansar Allah movement – continued targeting of commercial and military vessels, and the United States and the United Kingdom carrying out attacks in Hudaydah, Hajjaj, Sana’a and Ta’iz governorates.

Missed opportunities

Mr. Grundberg also lamented the missed opportunities for reconciliation that historically accompanied the holy month of Ramadan.

While past years had seen the parties agree to ceasefires and release detainees, this year witnessed a stark departure from such hopeful gestures, with detainees remaining in custody and further civilian casualties, including women and children.

“Instead of narrowing differences and building confidence, I am troubled by the apparent growing divergence between the parties,” he said, noting their unilateral actions that risk further bifurcating the economic system.

Director Edem Wosornu briefing the Security Council.

Humanitarian crisis

Against the backdrop of protracted political and security crisis, the humanitarian situation across Yemen remains dire with the reemergence of cholera and escalating levels of severe malnutrition.

Also briefing the Security Council, Edem Wosornu, Director of Operations at the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), highlighted that the most vulnerable Yemenis, including women, girls, displaced persons and marginalized groups, continue to depend on humanitarian aid for survival.

Furthermore, as the lean season approaches, hunger and nutrition insecurity is expected to worsen, placing millions at risk. While community-led initiatives provide temporary relief, sustained support is essential to stave off the looming crisis, Ms. Wosornu said.

However, the relief efforts are hampered by a concerning deficit in funding for the 2024 Humanitarian Response Plan.

Despite efforts to streamline operations and reduce financial demands, the plan remains only 10 per cent funded as the year progresses, she added, calling for urgent action to bridge the funding gap and ensure that lifesaving assistance reaches those most in need.