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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 June 2018

UN appoints new Yemen envoy: report

It comes after Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed announced on Monday that he will step down from the role at the end of next month

UN envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, seen here speaking to reporters at Sanaa airport on November 7, 2016, is stepping down at the end of next month. Khaled Abdullah / Reuters
UN envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, seen here speaking to reporters at Sanaa airport on November 7, 2016, is stepping down at the end of next month. Khaled Abdullah / Reuters

The United Nations has appointed Briton Martin Griffiths as its next special envoy to Yemen, a news report said on Tuesday.

It comes after Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed announced on Monday that he will step down from the role at the end of next month. He had been in the position since April 2015.

Sources in New York confirmed Mr Griffiths' appointment, Al Arabiya reported.

The Briton is the executive director of the European Institute of Peace, the website of which describes him a senior international mediator. Between 2012 and 2014 he served in the office of UN Syria envoys Kofi Annan, Lakhdar Brahimi and Staffan de Mistura

News of Mr Griffiths' appointment came as British foreign minister Boris Johnson hosted talks with his UAE, Saudi and US counterparts to discuss the next steps for reaching a political resolution to the Yemeni conflict.

Ahead of the meeting, Mr Johnson tweeted that "a political settlement is the only long term solution for Yemen".

Also on Tuesday, the body of an Emirati serviceman killed fighting in Yemen arrived at Al Bateen airport in Abu Dhabi.

The UAE is part of a Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen on behalf of president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi's government.

The General Command of the UAE Armed Forces announced on Monday that First Corporal Abdullah Mohammed Ahmed Dahmani had died fighting in the coalition's Operation Restoring Hope, which is fighting to restore Mr Hadi's government after Houthi rebels seized large parts of the country.

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Also on Monday, Yemen's deputy interior minister survived an attack by the Houthis on a military parade in the southwestern province of Taez.

The Iran-backed rebels used a katyusha rocket launcher to fire explosives at the parade marking the beginning of a new military training year at an elite forces camp in Al Ma'afer district.

Deputy interior minister Ali Nasser Lakhsha'a survived the Monday attack, along with Taez's deputy governor, Abdulqawi Al Mikhlafi, said Mohammed Maresh, a fixer for a number of news outlets, including Al Arabiya, who was at the parade.

Mohammed Al Qadasi, a cameraman for local TV station Baliqees, was killed in the shelling, while a former correspondent for Russia's RT news channel was severely injured, Mr Maresh said. Seven others were also injured.

The interior ministry confirmed that Mr Lakhsha'a and all of his guards survived.

Separately, the Yemeni army backed by UAE forces launched a lightning offensive against Houthi pockets in areas either side of the border between Hodeidah and Taez provinces on Monday, Aseel Al Sakladi, media officer for the brigades involved in the offensive, told The National in a phone call.

The offensive led by Major General Abu Zara'a Al Muharramy, commander of Al Amalikah brigades, liberated a string of villages, while "many" Houthis were killed, Al Sakladi said, unable to give a more specific death toll. Another four of the militants were arrested, while tens ran away.