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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 21 July 2018

UN to appoint Briton Martin Griffiths as new Yemen envoy

Mr Griffiths would replace Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed of Mauritania, who last month announced that he would not stay on as Yemen envoy beyond the end of his contract at the end of this month

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces (R), receives Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the UN envoy, at Al Shati Palace. Mohammed Al Hammadi / WAM
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces (R), receives Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the UN envoy, at Al Shati Palace. Mohammed Al Hammadi / WAM

UN chief Antonio Guterres intends to appoint Britain’s Martin Griffiths as the new UN peace envoy to Yemen after Mauritania’s Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed’s term ends this month.

Mr Cheikh Ahmed met with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, on Tuesday in the Emirates’ capital.

Sheikh Mohammed thanked the outgoing UN envoy for his efforts to find a political solution to the crisis in Yemen, which the UN has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in recent history.

Mr Cheikh Ahmed, in turn, thanked the UAE Crown Prince for his country’s continued humanitarian assistance to the Yemeni people.

He announced in January that he would not stay as Yemen envoy beyond the end of his contract at the end of this month. He was appointed in April 2015.

Mr Guterres wrote in a letter that Mr Griffiths, who is executive director of the Brussels-based European Institute of Peace, "brings extensive experience in conflict resolution, negotiation, mediation and humanitarian affairs”.

Council members have until 5pm Thursday to raise objections to the appointment of Mr Griffiths, who served as an adviser to the UN envoys for Syria from 2012 to 2014.

Diplomats, however, said they expected the council to endorse the appointment following weeks of consultations.

If confirmed, Mr Griffiths would take on one of the most challenging peace missions, with little hope that a settlement could be within sight.

More than 9,200 people have been killed in the Yemen war, according to the World Health Organisation.

A severe cholera outbreak has also left 2,000 people dead and one million infected, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Born in 1951, Mr Griffiths was the founding director of the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue in Geneva, which specialises in political dialogue. He held that position from 1999 to 2010.

He has also worked in the British diplomatic service and for international agencies, such as UNICEF and the non-governmental organisation Save the Children.

In 1994, he was appointed director of UN humanitarian affairs in Geneva and in 1998 became deputy to the UN emergency relief coordinator in New York.