Yemen needs Security Council support to continue political transition, UN envoy says

Special Adviser on Yemen Jamal Benomar. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine

8 February 2013 – Yemen needs the full support of the Security Council as it proceeds to the next phase of its nascent political transition, a United Nations envoy told the 15-member body, which recently visited the country.

“The situation in Yemen remains fragile and many tasks lie ahead for the transition to succeed, and the risk for the violence to be averted. We must remain attentive to the continued attempt to obstruct the transition,” the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Jamal Benomar, told journalists yesterday following a closed-door briefing to the Council.

“While progress has been made and the transition remains largely on track, it is clear that there has been active resistance to the transition,” Mr. Benomar said, adding that “it is clear to whom these are attributable to.”

The Council’s visit to Yemen last month, led by Ambassadors Mark Lyall Grant of the United Kingdom and Mohammed Loulichki of Morocco, was aimed at assessing progress in the political transition, and included talks with high-level political and military officials, as well as the UN Country Team.

Yemen has been undergoing a democratic transition, with a Government of National Unity under the leadership of President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi, who came to power in an election in February 2012 following protests that led to the resignation of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

As part of the transition, Yemen is due to hold an all-inclusive national dialogue that will feed into a constitution-making progress, and pave the way for general elections to be held in 2014.

Since the Council visit, Mr. Hadi announced that the dialogue would begin on 18 March.

In his briefing, Mr. Benomar – who has made 18 visits to Yemen – reiterated that in addition to the political challenges, Yemenis face a humanitarian crisis.

“I told the Council that while the bleeding has stopped on the economic contraction, Yemenis are still waiting to see tangible improvements in their daily lives. The Government needs to accelerate the establishment of a mechanism to absorb donor-funded programmes and the donors in return need to fulfil their commitments,” he said.

The 2013 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan urgently requires $716 million in order to provide emergency and early recovery assistance to 7.7 million of the country’s most needy – a 22 per cent increase in funding requirements compared with the 2012 response plan.

The Council’s visit came as a ship containing weapons was seized in Yemeni waters. The Yemeni Government has requested the UN sanctions committee to investigate.

“What I told the Council is that Yemen is awash with arms, light weapons, heavy weapons are available to private citizens and groups, and it is in this context that I talked about the ship and the shipment of arms,” Mr. Benomar said in response to journalists’ questions about the matter.

“The Government made a request to the sanctions committee for a full investigation and this has been discussed by members of the Council, they will establish the facts on what happened, where the shipment came from, etc.”


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