UN envoy says viable peace plan for Yemen within reach; Bold decisions needed


UNITED NATIONS, Jan 27 (APP): United Nations envoy for Yemen,

Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, has warned that those seeking a military
solution to the conflict in the Arab country, will only prolong
the suffering, caused by war and allow terrorist threat to grow
and deepen the challenges that will face the eventual recovery.
The past several months have seen a ‘dangerous escalation’ of
military activities with tragic consequences for the Yemeni people,
he told the Security Council during a briefing alongside UN Emergency
Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien.
Indeed, he explained, armed hostilities continued in many areas, including Sana’a governorate, Taiz city and in border areas.
“Civilians in Taiz continue to suffer from indiscriminate shelling
in the city’s residential areas, with such attacks increasing in recent days,” Ould Cheikh Ahmed said, adding ground fighting and airstrikes
had also escalated along the western coastline following the launch of operation ‘Golden Spear’ by the Yemeni Government and allied forces.
Both sides to the conflict continue to claim significant military progress in the media, “but I remain convinced that there is no
possibility of a military solution.”
Describing ‘daily attacks and counter-attacks,’ he said the
continued military activities are all the more tragic as a viable
proposal for peace is on the table and within reach of both parties.
“With political courage and will, the war can be stopped,” he said,
pressing both sides to demonstrate the political courage needed to
stop the nearly two-year-long war.
Recalling that a meeting hosted by Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister
in Riyadh on 18 December 2016, senior officials from Oman, United Arab Emirates, the United States and the United Kingdom had concluded with
calls for a rapid cessation of hostilities, he said: “We are committed
to ensuring that the upcoming cessation of hostilities will be durable
and provide real relief to the Yemeni people.”
He went on to state that while Ansar Allah and the General People’s Congress had accepted the road-map as a basis for consultations last
November, their unwillingness to discuss security arrangements seriously
did not help to advance peace. Moreover, he also was disappointed at
their decision to appoint a parallel government, and urged President
Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi to commit himself to consultations based on
the proposals.
Stressing that ‘there is a clear path out of the violence,’
Ould Cheikh Ahmed emphasized that his proposals have reflected
the concerns and needs of both sides, and took Yemen’s political,
security and social situations into consideration. “I hope Yemen’s
leaders will be able to see the impact that this tragedy has had
on the country, make the bold decision to commit to a political
solution and put an end to the senseless violence.”
For his part, O’Brien said the conflict in Yemen is now
the primary driver of the largest food security emergency in
the world. “If there is no immediate action, famine is now
a possible scenario for 2017.”
From the beginning of the hostilities in March 2015 to
31 December 2016, 7,469 Yemenis were killed and 40,483 injured
due to the conflict, he said, noting that the true number is
likely to be higher. The casualty figures include more than
1,400 children killed and over 2,140 children injured. Another
1,441 children have been recruited by warring parties, some
as young as eight years old.
Beyond the direct casualties of the armed conflict, there
are also the so-called ‘silent deaths’ of Yemenis that go
largely unnoticed and unrecorded, he said.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which O’Brien heads, more than
two thirds of the population – an alarming 18.8 million – is
in need of humanitarian and protection assistance, including
an astounding 10.3 million Yemenis who require immediate
assistance to save or sustain their lives. This is about
the size of the entire population of Sweden and the numbers
are rising, he added.
Some 14 million people are currently food insecure, of
whom half are severely food insecure.
So far, he said, the UN verified over 325 attacks
on schools, health facilities, markets, roads, bridges
and even water points. Over two thirds of the damage to
public infrastructure is a result of airstrikes.
In spite of the difficult conditions and tremendous
challenges, the humanitarian community reached 5.6 million
Yemenis in 2016, with more than 114 aid organizations are
working in Yemen, he said, adding that thanks to the swift
intervention by humanitarian partners, the cholera outbreak
which started in October is now in decline.
Roughly $2 billion is required to support the 2017
humanitarian response, targeting 10 million of the most
vulnerable people in Yemen. “I request Member States to
pledge generously at the forthcoming Yemen Pledging Conference
in late March,” O’Brien stressed.
He concluded his briefing by requesting Council members
to once again call for an immediate ceasefire and cessation
of hostilities and use their influence over the parties to
the conflict to ensure that they respect international
humanitarian law and to provide timely, full and unimpeded
humanitarian access.