The Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen told the Security Council today that he would soon set out a proposal to advance the Yemeni peace talks, now entering their third month in Kuwait, as he called for concessions to be made against the backdrop of a potential humanitarian crisis.
Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, speaking by video teleconference from Kuwait City, said the talks — which began on 21 April — had been moving slowly, yet constructively, and while some difficulties remained to be addressed, he was reassured by the commitment of the two delegations.
“I will provide the Yemeni parties, in the next few days, with a written proposal for the upcoming period before we resume consultations after a short break aimed at allowing parties to consult with their respective leaderships,” he told the Council.
“We are working towards reaching a comprehensive and sustainable peace agreement that will create security and stability for Yemen and its people, and constitute a signal of hope for the Middle East,” he said, calling “on all parties to show political courage” and make the concessions necessary for a pact.
So far, the talks had been characterized by “an extraordinary openness”, Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed said, explaining how he listened carefully to both parties’ views and concerns before coming up with a road map leading to implementation of security arrangements specified in Security Council resolution 2216 (2015), the establishment of a Government of National Unity and the setting up of national and international monitoring mechanisms.
“The delegations have responded positively to the proposals, but have not yet reached agreement on the sequencing of the different steps provided for in the road map”, such as when a Government of National Unity would be created, he said.
Despite progress at the negotiating table, living conditions for Yemen’s people had declined severely, he said. The failure to provide basic services had had a devastating impact, while hot weather and a lack of electricity in Aden, Hodayya and elsewhere had exacerbated a health crisis, causing several preventable deaths.
At the same time, Yemen’s economy had deteriorated, with gross domestic product (GDP) shrinking by more than 30 per cent since January, he said. The Central Bank was ensuring the importation of basic commodities, such as rice, wheat and medicines, but such support would become more difficult in the weeks ahead.
“The humanitarian situation in Yemen is alarming and there are credible reports by humanitarian organizations warning of a humanitarian catastrophe should the situation not be addressed rapidly,” he said.
The cessation of hostilities declared on 10 April was providing relief from violence in many parts of Yemen, he said, with the De-escalation and Coordination Committee and local disengagement councils playing a key role. Nevertheless, serious violations had still occurred, including the shelling of a popular market in Taizz on 4 June that had resulted in civilian casualties, and violations in Marib, Al Jawf, Taiz and border areas with Saudi Arabia.
He welcomed the release of prisoners since the beginning of Ramadan, including 54 children returned to their families by the Government and more than 400 detainees, including prisoners of war, released by Ansar Allah. However, the limited release of prisoners had been accompanied by a systematic persecution of civilians, including journalists and civil society activists, he said, calling on all parties to halt such acts and fulfil their obligations under international human rights law.
Khaled Hussein Mohamed Alyemany (Yemen) said that, in spite of the difficult circumstances surrounding the negotiation process in Kuwait, his Government had committed itself to peace. Expressing faith in ability of the process to bring an end to the suffering of the Yemeni people — which was a direct result of the coup d’état by Houthi rebels — he said his Government had examined the ideas put forward by the Special Envoy. Nevertheless, there remained a “lack of seriousness” on the part of those who had carried out the coup, and those parties must renounce all unilateral measures.
The Government had proposed a plan for lasting peace, he said, noting that, among other things, the road map must include the release of heavy weapons and the withdrawal of the Houthi militias. Indeed, the success of the transitional period and the creation of a federal State hinged on those preconditions. From the first moments of the Kuwait negotiations, his Government had called for a full cessation of hostilities, but the other side had continued its acts of war without pause. In particular, the Houthi militias had continued their assaults against Yemen’s southern provinces. Those who committed such acts would be held accountable.
Since capturing Sana'a, he continued, the rebel forces had worked systematically to destroy Yemen’s national economy, including by wasting some $5 billion on their criminal activities and by trading oil on the black market. In addition, they had released some 52 Al-Qaida elements who had been imprisoned in Yemen, demonstrating their close ties to that terrorist group. In contrast, the Yemeni Government had coordinated with coalition forces in the fight against terrorism, conducting strikes against Al-Qaida, and it would continue to pursue both that group and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh).
Drawing attention to the plight of prisoners who had been unjustly detained by rebels in “flagrant violation” of humanitarian and human rights law, he called on the Council to continue to pressure the militias to release prisoners in line with resolution 2216 (2015), and reaffirmed his Government’s commitment to work towards a lasting peace in Yemen.
The meeting began at 11:05 a.m. and ended at 11:32 a.m.
* The 7720th Meeting was closed.