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Fragile hopes rise in Yemen: UN envoy

New York – 22 October 2019: UN Secretary General’s special envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths and Relief Chief Mark Lowcock told Security Council on Thursday that there was “cause for optimism” but still a long way to go, to decisively end more than 4 years of fighting between the Saudi-led coalition supporting the southern-based, internationally-recognized government, and Houthi rebels who control the capital, Sana’a, and other key areas.
Griffiths referred to the recent reduction in violence in the north, growing spirit of generosity between the parties, freeing some of those detained and imprisoned and allowing those desperately needed oil ships to enter Hodeida in a very impressive way in the last few days. “I want to claim that there are indeed signs of hope for the people of Yemen, even in the middle of a misery.. Yes, indeed, there are signs of hope. But these are fragile and in need of our diligent care and attention,” Griffiths added during a meeting on Yemen in the Security Council.
Although the situation remains volatile in the south of Yemen, Griffiths said, “It is worth noting that there has been no large-scale fighting in the areas of dispute despite our deep concerns in this council from August onwards. And I think this can be taken as a testimony to the restraint shown by those on the ground and their leaders.” He highlighted the initiative from the Houthis, formally known as Ansar Allah, to suspend all drones and ballistic missile attacks on Saudi Arabia, and the reduction of violence that followed the announcement.
UN officials counted on Saudi Arabia as it was expected to announce a deal to end the standoff between the government and Houthi rebels. No deal has been reached yet; however, Griffiths said there was significant progress during the Jeddah talks under the leadership of Saudi Arabia. “Thanks to the Saudis' strenuous diplomatic efforts, there are encouraging signs that an agreement aimed at resolving the issues between the Government of Yemen under President Hadi and the Southern Transitional Council may be well within reach,” he added.
The UN Emergency Relief Coordinator and OCHA Chief, Mark Lowcock, told members September had been “the deadliest month for civilians so far this year,” with an average of 13 killed every day. "But when it comes to lifesaving aid, the Government has made substantial progress clearing backlogs in humanitarian delivery caused by the in-fighting across the south," he added, noting that funding gaps in recent months had forced “key programmes” to simply close.
On the other hand, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale met with President of the Republic of Yemen Government (ROYG) Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik and Foreign Minister Mohammed Hadhrami in Riyadh. The under-secretary reaffirmed U.S. support for the unity of Yemen and for the ROYG as Yemen’s legitimate government. He expressed support for the political process led by UN Special Envoy Griffiths and stressed that a political solution is the only path to a peaceful, prosperous, stable, and unified Yemen. Under Secretary Hale also commended the Yemeni government’s longstanding partnership on counter-terrorism efforts.