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UN chief urges Yemen warring sides to engage with new envoy

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres talks during the High-Level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen, in Geneva, Switzerland, on April 3, 2018. (Photo by Reuters)

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has urged the warring parties in Yemen to hold peace talks to find a solution to the three-year old conflict.

“I urge all parties to engage with my new Special Envoy, Martin Griffiths, without delay,” Guterres told a UN conference in Geneva on Tuesday, where the global body is seeking pledges towards $3 billion in aid for war-ravaged Yemen this year.

The UN chief also called for keeping Yemen’s ports open to humanitarian and commercial cargo, particularly food, medicines, and fuel, stressing that “Sana’a airport is also a lifeline that must be kept open.”

In November 2017, Saudi Arabia announced that it was shutting down Yemen’s air, sea, and land borders. Under international pressure, Saudi Arabia reportedly eased that blockade on Yemeni ports in December last year for a 30-day period, extended it for another month, then left it in apparent limbo when it expired on February 18.

However, humanitarian officials said the Houthi-held port of Hudaydah, a major lifeline for the war-torn impoverished country, remains “a wasteland,” noting that a “de facto blockade” on the main port is still in place.

A Yemeni child who was injured in a Saudi airstrike in the district of Al-Hali in Hudaydah Province, receives treatment at a hospital in Yemen, on April 2, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

The Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights announced in a statement on March 25 that the Saudi-led war had left 600,000 civilians dead and injured during the past three years.

The UN says a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in need of food aid, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger.

The Saudi-led war was launched in March 2015 in support of Yemen’s former Riyadh-friendly government and against the country’s Houthi Ansarullah movement, which has been running state affairs.

The offensive has, however, not achieved its goals despite the spending of billions of petrodollars and the enlisting of Saudi Arabia’s regional and Western allies.


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