The former envoy tells the Security Council: Yemen is a tale of wasted and then lost opportunities


Martin Griffiths, appointed in 2018, has been mediating efforts to end five years of fighting between government forces, backed by Saudi Arabia, and the Ansar Allah movement, also known as the Houthis.

“As you know, over the past year and a half, I’ve had rounds of shuttle diplomacy with the parties,” He remembers.

“With great regret, Mr. President, I am informed today, so far, that the parties have yet to overcome their differences.”

Hopes for the transformation of fate

Mr. Griffiths described Yemen as “a tale of missed and then missed opportunities”.

He informed the ambassadors that Ansar Allah insisted on a stand-alone agreement for the vital ports of Hodeidah and Sanaa airport as a precondition for negotiations on a nationwide ceasefire and the start of the political process.

On the other hand, the government wants to agree on all these issues and implement them as one package, with a special focus on establishing a ceasefire.

“We have now come up with different solutions to bridge these situations,” he said. “Unfortunately, so far, none of these suggestions have been accepted.”

“I really, really, really, really hope that we all do, that the efforts of Oman and others, but Oman in particular, after my private visits to Sana’a and Riyadh, will bear fruit and that we will soon hear a different turn in the fate of Yemen.”

sense of security

He stressed that the ceasefire “will have an undeniable humanitarian value” because it will open vital roads and create a sense of security for citizens.

He added, “Also let me be clear, the continued closure of Sanaa airport and the extensive restrictions on fuel through the ports of Hodeidah, are unjustified and must be addressed urgently.”

The UN envoy stressed the need for an inclusive political process in Yemen, and a settlement, to escape cycles of violence and conflict.

A political settlement must reflect the interests of the various parties to the conflict. It must guarantee the interests and rights of the people most affected by the conflict, not just those who perpetuate and lead the conflict.”

Last month, it was announced that Mr. Griffiths would take up the position of UN Humanitarian Coordinator. He began his briefing by noting that Yemen remains the world’s worst man-made humanitarian crisis, and that ending the war is an option.

“Yemeni men, women and children suffer every day because those in power have missed the opportunities they had to make the necessary concessions to end the war,” he said.

As a result, Yemenis are forced to live with violence, insecurity and fear, with their freedom of movement and freedom of expression restricted. Perhaps most tragic, we are witness to the hopes and aspirations of a generation of Yemeni youth for a peaceful future.”

Give peace a chance

Outgoing UN humanitarian coordinator Mark Lowcock told the council that an average of at least five civilians were killed or injured every day in Yemen.

May was the deadliest month so far this year, with more than 60 people killed across the country.

Meanwhile, although relief agencies are now assisting more than 10 million people every month, they still face many obstacles, mostly in Houthi-controlled areas.

Lowcock noted that shortly after assuming the position of “relief chief” at the United Nations in 2017, he called for five steps to help Yemen: stopping the war, better protection of civilians, increased access for humanitarian workers, more funding for relief operations, and more support for the economy.

“After nearly four years, they are still the things we order every month,” he said He said.

“There is broad agreement on what needs to be done, including in the Security Council, and we need to translate that agreement into action,” he continued. “This means that everyone — especially the parties to the conflict — must work on all five points that we discussed here years ago.”

He stated that there should not be any preconditions for a ceasefire.

“War solved nothing. Try something different. Give peace a chance.”

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