Yemen: UN envoy adjourns peace talks till January pending enforcement of a proper ceasefire

Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheik Ahmed. UN Photo/Elma Ocik

20 December 2015 – In the face of numerous violations of the cessation of hostilities in Yemen, the Special United Nations Envoy today decided to adjourn peace talks in Switzerland for a month to allow for bi-lateral in-country and regional consultations to achieve a ceasefire.

“Given the centrality of the cessation of hostilities to the success of talks, the Special Envoy has elected to adjourn the talks until the middle of January 2016,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said in a communiqué.

“In order to ensure adherence to the cessation of hostilities and enable sustainability, the Special Envoy judges that additional bilateral consultations will be required in Yemen and in the region in the coming weeks. The Special Envoy shall continue to work with the parties to identify and implement confidence-building measures that will help build respect for a durable ceasefire and peace process.”

The conflict between the factions has worsened Yemen's already poor food situation, adding over 3 million people to the ranks of the hungry in less than a year, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has reported, with 7.6 million people severely food insecure – a level that requires urgent, external, food aid.

Last week, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners today appealed for $31 million to ensure the continuity of medical services for nearly 15 million Yemenis following the collapse of the country's health system.

In his communiqué, Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed cited the parties' constructive engagement in the UN-facilitated talks, but said progress was affected by numerous violations of the cessation of hostilities.

“Despite this, the parties made serious progress through identifying a framework for negotiations towards a comprehensive settlement, in addition to defining a set of relevant confidence-building measures relating to prisoner release, improved social services and improving the flow of humanitarian aid to Taiz (central Yemen) and other Yemeni governorates,” it said.

He noted that the parties agreed to develop a package of confidence-building measures including a mechanism for the release of prisoners to include all detainees and prisoners once a permanent ceasefire is in place, to establish a Co-ordination and De-escalation Committee of military advisors from both sides, facilitated by the UN, and to lift all forms of blockade and allow safe and rapid access for humanitarian supplies.

The participants also agreed to a negotiating framework for a comprehensive agreement to end the conflict and allow the resumption of inclusive political dialogue, to continue the work of the Coordination and De-escalation Committee and identify a suitable location for it in the region, to meet again for a second round of UN-facilitated talks, and to ensure a greater involvement of women in the talks.

“The Special Envoy wishes to commend the participants for the work so far undertaken and plans to convene the next round of these talks on 14 January 2016,” the communiqué concluded.

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