New initiative proposed by UN envoy to resolve Yemen crisis

Article for AhramOnline by Ahmed Eleiba

An initiative for a Yemeni political settlement has been presented to the Houthi faction and ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh loyalists, a source close to Saleh told Ahram Online.
The written initiative was presented to the two allied factions by UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, who visited the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Monday, according to the source.

“The UN envoy left before receiving a final reply in hopes that he will be back in a few weeks to prepare a fresh round of talks for a settlement if an initial approval is given,” the source said.

The new initiative includes six main points, the first of which is for Yemeni President Abd Rabu Mansour Hady to be recognised as a transitional president with limited authority, and the appointment of a vice president agreed upon by all involved factions and who is to be based in the capital Sanaa, currently under Houthi control.

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Smashed cranes slow aid flow to Yemen-UN Aid Chief

Article for Digital Journal by Ian Timberlake

"Smashed cranes" at Yemen's rebel-held Hodeida port are hindering the entry of relief supplies to ease a deteriorating humanitarian crisis in the war-torn country, the UN aid chief said Wednesday.

On a visit to Saudi Arabia, Stephen O'Brien told reporters that aid flow needed to increase at the Red Sea port, through which 80 to 90 percent of Yemen's supplies transited before the war.

"The real issue is the restriction of unloading capacity at the port because the cranes are smashed," said O'Brien, who heads the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

He did not mention the cause of the damage to the cranes, but in August last year he said coalition air strikes on the port were in contravention of international humanitarian law.

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Yemen at the UN - August 2016 Review

Article by Sanaa Center for Strategic Studies

United Nations-mediated peace talks aimed at resolving the conflict in Yemen stalled during the month of August, while divisions regarding Yemen became increasingly apparent at the UN Security Council and violence escalated around the country.

The negotiations between the warring parties, held in Kuwait, ended in early August over an impasse regarding so-called “sequencing concerns” related to the UN-sponsored peace plan; these were essentially a disagreement over whether the Houthi rebels and allied forces should be required to cede capture territory and disarm before, or after, their place in a new unity government was established.

In an effort to break the impasse, in late August a multilateral group consisting of the United States, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia put forward a new peace proposal drafted by the US Secretary of State to address the sequencing concerns.

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Yemen at the UN - July 2016 Review

Article by Sanaa Center for Strategic Studies

United Nations efforts to resolve the Yemeni conflict were marked by disputes and setbacks during the month of July. Days before the originally scheduled conclusion of peace talks in Kuwait on July 31, the Houthi rebels and their allied General Popular Congress (GPC), led by former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, unilaterally established a governing council in Yemen that both leaves out the internationally-recognized Yemeni government and undermines the UN-led peace process. Although the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, was subsequently successful in extending the peace talks through to August 6, they were concluded without having secured a peace agreement, prompting concerns about both a likely escalation in fighting and the ineffectiveness of UN efforts to help end the war.

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UN Security Council: The Humanitarian situation in Yemen (7622nd meeting)

The situation in the Middle East (Yemen)
Briefing by Mr. Stephen O’Brien, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on the humanitarian situation in Yemen.

(Start watching at 2:00 minutes)

UNOCHA chief Stephen O'Brien provides updated data on humanitarian catastrophe. Stresses that all parties to the conflict are hindering humanitarian access. O'Brien notes in particular that while access to Ta'iz has improved since the January peace talks, Houthi forces are still delaying and blocking much of the aid sent there. Also emphasizes that Saudi Arabia's recent "warning" to the UN and NGOs has had a major negative impact on the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Saudi Arabia Warns the UN and Aid Workers in Yemen

Article for Vice News by Samuel Oakford:

The Saudi government has sent letters to the United Nations and to aid agencies operating in Yemen, stating that they should leave areas under Houthi control in order to be safe from bombing, VICE News can reveal.

An initial letter was sent by the Saudi mission in Geneva on February 5 to the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The "note verbale" — French for "verbal note," a kind of diplomatic communication — requested that OCHA "notify all the international organizations working in Yemen about the necessity of relocating their headquarters outside the military operations areas to be away from regions where the Houthi militias and the groups belonging to them are activating, in order for the Coalition forces to guarantee the safety and security of the international organizations." A similar letter, addressed to "International Organisations and their employees," and marked "urgent," was sent out on the same day by the Saudi embassy in London.

Houthi rebels and their allies loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh control areas where the majority of Yemen's population lives, including the capital Sanaa, where most aid organizations and UN operations are headquartered.

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This is very worrying. In their next assault on Sanaa, the Saudis want no foreign observers on the ground. They have also just bombed Sanaa's Nehm exchange, seriously degrading Yemen's internet connection to the outside world. They want to silence Yemeni witnesses by cutting them off from the outside world, and kick out the foreign witnesses. This should raise major alarm bells in governments around the world!

90 Seconds: Leaked UN panel report on Yemen

Summary video by Middle East Eye:

European Parliament resolution on the humanitarian situation in Yemen

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION, submitted 27/1/16

Read the full text of the motion here

Statement by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

New York, 28 September 2015

The Secretary-General condemns the airstrikes that reportedly struck a wedding party in Wahijah village, outside of the Red Sea port city of Mokha in Yemen, killing as many as 135 people. The Secretary-General expresses his deepest condolences and sympathies to the families of the victims and a swift recovery to those injured.

The Secretary-General has consistently stated that there is no military solution to the conflict in Yemen. Its continuation will only bring more human suffering and destruction. Earlier today addressing the United Nations General Assembly, he condemned the disregard shown by all sides for human life.

The Secretary-General, therefore, again calls on all parties involved in the Yemeni conflict, from inside and outside the country, to immediately cease all military activities and resolve all differences through peaceful negotiations facilitated by his Special Envoy.

Any intentional attack against civilians is considered a serious violation of international humanitarian law. Violations of international law should be investigated through prompt, effective, independent and impartial mechanisms to ensure accountability.

Find the original statement here