UN Envoy Urges Yemeni Rivals To ‘Bridge The Gap’

In this file photograph taken on September 5, 2018,  (Photo by HAZEM BADER / AFP)

 

The UN envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, urged rival Yemeni forces Monday to “bridge the gap” to reach a ceasefire, praising a diplomatic push for peace in the devastated country.

Yemen’s civil war, which started in 2014, pits Iran-backed Huthi rebels against an internationally recognised government supported by a Saudi-led military coalition.

“Throughout the process, we have suggested several ways to bridge the gap between the parties,” Griffiths told reporters, speaking after meeting Huthi officials in the rebel-held capital Sanaa.

Yemen’s long war has claimed tens of thousands of lives and displaced millions.

“There’s an extraordinary amount of diplomatic consensus… there is a real diplomatic energy now, which hasn’t always been the case,” Griffiths said.

The effort to secure peace in Yemen comes after regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran restarted talks last month, their first high-level meeting since Riyadh cut diplomatic ties with Tehran in 2016.

While the United Nations and the US administration of President Joe Biden are pushing to end the grinding conflict, the rebels have demanded the re-opening of Sanaa airport before any ceasefire agreement.

The Saudi-led coalition imposed an air blockade on the Huthis, which has resulted in the closure of Sanaa airport to commercial flights since 2016.

“All of our proposals have also guaranteed the reopening of this airport where we are speaking today, Sanaa airport,” said Griffiths,

Griffiths, a British diplomat, was earlier this month named as the UN’s next humanitarian chief.

Nine Yemeni Civilians, Four Children Killed In Air Strike – Residents

yemeniAt least nine civilians, including four children, were killed on Thursday in an air strike by the Saudi-led coalition on a residential building north of the Yemeni capital Sanaa, residents said.

At least five other people were injured in the attack early on Thursday on the three-storey apartment building in the Amran provincial capital, Amran city, north of Sanaa, they said.

A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition said he was checking the report. The coalition, which has been fighting to roll back gains made by the Iran-allied Houthi group since 2014 and restore ousted President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to power, says it does not target civilians.

The attack was the latest raid to have struck civilian targets since August. Previous ones include a strike on a hospital run by Doctors without Borders, prompting the international medical charity to withdraw staff from northern Yemen.

Residents said the building was struck three times while an adjacent but empty school was hit twice. No one was hurt in the school which was empty as the school year has yet to start.

Rescue workers were still sifting through the rubble searching for more victims.

The conflict has killed more than 10,000 people, according to the United Nations, and displaced more than three million people.

Hadi’s government, backed by the coalition, began an offensive on Houthi positions outside the capital Sanaa in early August after the latest round of peace talks ended in Kuwait without an agreement. But little progress has been reported on the ground by either side.