‘Hope for further Yemen negotiations,’ UN envoy tells Security Council

‘Hope for further Yemen negotiations,’ UN envoy tells Security Council

LONDON: UN Yemen envoy Martin Griffiths told the Security Council on Wednesday that both sides have largely stuck to the Hodeidah ceasefire and there has been a significant decrease in hostilities.

The briefing was the first since the agreement struck during talks in Sweden last month swung into effect.

The internationally recognized Yemeni government and the Arab coalition providing it military support against enemy Houthi militants, have accused the Iran-backed group of dozens of violations of the ceasefire.

And while Griffiths acknowledged their had been some problems but he was still “hopeful” that further negotiations will be held “in the near future.”

Talks are ongoing on a redeployment of forces from Hodeidah, providing security in the city and opening up access routes to allow humanitarian convoys to reach millions in dire need of food aid, he added.

A meeting will be held in Amman next week to follow up on an agreed prisoner swap that could pave the way to an airlift of "many, many thousands" of detainees from both sides.

"It is my view and it is shared by the leadership of both parties, but also others, that substantial progress, particularly on Hodeida of course, is something that we would like to see before we reconvene the next consultations," said Griffiths.

Griffiths briefed the Security Council after a round of shuttle diplomacy in the region including talks with militia leaders in Sanaa and President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi in Riyadh on shoring up the ceasefire deal.

The United Nations is working to schedule a new round of talks, possibly in Kuwait, to build on the Stockholm agreement and advance toward a final deal to end the conflict.

The war between the Houthis and troops loyal to the government started when the Houthis seized the capital Sanaa in 2014.

The conflict has unleashed the world's worst humanitarian crisis, according to the UN, which says 80 percent of the population are in need of aid.

Nearly 10 million people are just one step away from famine, UN aid chief Mark Lowcock told the council.

"Millions of Yemenis are hungrier, sicker and more vulnerable than a year ago," said Lowcock, who stressed that while the political process was important "it does not in itself feed a single starving child.”

The Security Council is considering the creation of a new observer mission to Yemen to monitor the ceasefire in Hodeida, oversee the pullback of forces and allow the delivery of humanitarian aid.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has proposed the deployment of up to 75 observers to Yemen for an initial period of six months to shore up the ceasefire while talks on a broader peace deal are held.

An advance team of about 16 international monitors, led by Dutch general Patrick Cammaert, has been deployed in Yemen, under a resolution adopted last month that endorsed the Stockholm agreement.

*With AFP

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