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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

UN draft resolution calls for Yemen truce, two weeks to unblock aid

Kuwait's UN ambassador says he has 'problems' with the proposal

Yemeni pro-government forces ride in the back of a pickup truck in the port city of Hodeidah. AFP
Yemeni pro-government forces ride in the back of a pickup truck in the port city of Hodeidah. AFP

A proposed UN resolution circulated on Monday urges Yemen's warring parties to relaunch negotiations to end the three-year conflict and take urgent steps to tackle the world's worst humanitarian crisis, which has pushed the country to the brink of famine.

The Security Council resolution, seen by the Associated Press, also calls on Yemen's internationally recognised government and rival Houthi Shiite rebels to agree to a ceasefire around the key port of Hodeidah.

Yemenis are completely reliant on commercial and humanitarian supplies of food, water, fuel, medicine and other essential supplies, and more than 70 per cent of those are shipped through rebel-held Hodeida. Its surrounding area has been the scene of recent attacks and air strikes, though fighting has eased in recent days.

The British-drafted resolution also calls on the parties "to cease all attacks on densely populated civilian areas across Yemen" - and to halt missile and drone attacks "against regional countries and maritime areas".

Security Council diplomats said negotiations on the draft are scheduled for Tuesday.

Kuwait's UN Ambassador Mansour Al Otaibi, the Arab representative on the Security Council, said he had "problems" with the draft resolution and hoped they were addressed before a vote.

The spotlight has returned to what many regard as the long-forgotten war in Yemen since the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul on October 2. UN special envoy Martin Griffiths said he is determined to take advantage of "the international attention and energy" to move toward peace.

The draft resolution expresses "unqualified support" for efforts by Mr Griffiths, who told the Security Council on Friday that the Houthis and the Saudi-backed government have agreed to attend talks "soon" in Sweden.

The conflict in Yemen began with the 2014 takeover of the capital of Sanaa by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, who toppled the legitimate government of President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi. The Saudi-led coalition allied with the government has been fighting the Houthis since 2015.

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Read more:

Editorial: The moment for peace in Yemen must be seized

Arab Coalition throws its weight behind Yemen peace talks

UAE, Saudi, UK and US establish committee to address Yemen war

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The draft resolution condemns "the unlawful military use of civilian infrastructure" and drone and missile attacks by the Houthis against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. It also expresses concern at reports of civilians being used as human shields.

It welcomes the coalition's recent de-escalation in Hodeidah and calls on the Houthis "to respond in kind in order to allow urgent deliveries of assistance and flows of life-saving commercial imports". It also welcomes "the renewed commitment from the Yemeni parties to work on a political solution" under Mr Griffiths' leadership.

UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock warned the council on October 23 that Yemen's economic crisis and escalating conflict had pushed the Arab world's poorest nation closer to famine than ever before, and on Friday he again urged its members to take action now.

Mr Lowcock said the Security Council should urge the parties to negotiate an end to the conflict and the international community to boost aid. He also called for a humanitarian ceasefire around key aid facilities, delivery of humanitarian and commercial imports to all Yemeni ports and onward to their final destinations, and funding to pay Yemeni pensioners and civil servants.

The draft resolution calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities in Hodeidah governorate, including a halt to missile and drone attacks and for all bureaucratic roadblocks to the delivery of humanitarian aid to be removed within two weeks.

David Beasley, head of the UN World Food Programme, visited Yemen last week and told the Security Council on Friday that as many as 12 million of the 28 million Yemenis "are just one step away from famine".

To avert that, Mr Beasley said, the international community must combine increased humanitarian funding with "an all-out effort to restore the Yemeni economy", which has collapsed.

The draft resolution calls on Yemen's government with support of the international community "to deliver a larger and faster injection of foreign currency into the economy" and to expedite credit for traders and payments to pensioners and civil servants within one month. It asks Mr Griffiths to explore ways for the government and the Houthis to co-operate on channelling revenue, including from Hodeidah, to the Central Bank of Yemen.