Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 20 October 2019

UN envoy to Yemen in Sanaa to salvage faltering peace deal

Western countries urge international support towards Yemen government

The UN special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths (R), arrives at Sanaa international airport in the Yemeni capital on April 8, 2019. AFP
The UN special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths (R), arrives at Sanaa international airport in the Yemeni capital on April 8, 2019. AFP

The UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths held talks with Houthi leaders in Sanaa on Tuesday in efforts to salvage the country’s faltering peace deal and to push the rebels towards disengagement after four years of war.

Mr Griffiths hosted peace talks in Stockholm in December between Yemen’s internationally recognised government and Iran-backed rebels that resulted in agreements on a ceasefire in the port of Hodeidah and a prisoner exchange.

But they are yet to be implemented after a series of reported Houthi violations. Fighting between government forces and Houthi fighters has continued outside the ceasefire area.

The Stockholm agreement provided for the troops’ mutual withdrawal in two phases, starting from the port of Ras Isa, Saleef and Hodeidah and concluding with the withdrawal from inside and around the city under the supervision of the UN.

“Mr Griffiths met with various Houthi leaders and the negotiations are ongoing,” a UN source told The National.

The meeting discussed the obstacles facing the implementation of the withdrawal of forces from Hodeidah as well as the prisoner exchange deal and ways to alleviate the humanitarian suffering of Yemenis.

“There has been some progress made on the deal, but we still need to implement the first phase of the agreement before going forward,” said the source.

The Red port sea city of Hodeidah is the entry point for most of Yemen’s commercial and humanitarian goods.

Mr Griffiths has been shuttling for months between the rebels in Sanaa and the Yemeni government in exile in bid to end the devastating war.

The development comes as the ambassadors of the G19+ countries, a grouping made up of the world largest economies, reiterated their support to Mr Griffiths and the Yemeni government's efforts to end the war.

They highlighted the urgency in allowing the “continued and unhindered flow of humanitarian and commercial supplies, including fuel and food,” through Hodeidah and Saleef.

“We underscore the need for the international community to support the Yemeni government’s focus on providing services to the entire population in Yemen, pay salaries, alleviate humanitarian suffering, and reinforce the economic recovery and reconstruction,” said the statement.

“We welcome the Yemeni government’s efforts to improve security, public services, and livelihoods, and in particular note recent progress on salary payments and agreeing a budget for 2019,” said the statement.

Updated: April 9, 2019 07:32 PM

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