New York

23 March 2016

Note to Correspondents: Statement of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, Mr. Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed

Good afternoon and thank you for coming.

We have watched with great pain the ongoing conflict in Yemen and the grave consequences it has had for the population. Yemen has suffered greatly, and its people have withstood an unspeakable tragedy.

The number of civilian casualties which have resulted are an affront to humanity. The conflict has caused extremely high levels of humanitarian suffering, which humanitarian agencies, despite their great efforts, have not been able to keep up with.

I have previously emphasized that only a political solution and inclusive peace process will ensure a future of reconciliation and peace in the country. The war in Yemen must be brought to an end before it does irreparable damage to the future of Yemen and the region.

The world is being threatened every day by cruel terrorist attacks. The absence of the State in many parts of Yemen has allowed the expansion of terrorist groups which create a long-term threat for the country and the region.

I have just completed an extensive round of consultations with Yemeni leaders and regional partners. I met with the Foreign Ministers of Kuwait, Jordan, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E., in addition to the Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council. I also was in touch with French Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Marc Ayrault, US Secretary of State John Kerry, and Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mikhail Bogdanov. I also visited Washington, D.C. and met with several senior U.S. officials. All of them underlined the importance of finding a political solution to the ongoing conflict, as soon as possible to put an end to the suffering of the Yemeni people.

After active consultations with the President Hadi and Yemeni officials in Riyadh and the delegations of Ansar Allah and the General People’s Congress in Sana’a, I am pleased to announce today that the parties to the conflict have agreed to a nation-wide cessation of hostilities beginning at midnight on 10 April, in advance of the upcoming round of the peace talks, which will take place on 18 April in Kuwait. I am very grateful to his Highness Prince of Kuwait Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah for offering to host this new round of talks.
The talks aim to reach a comprehensive agreement, which will end the conflict and allow the resumption of inclusive political dialogue in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 2216 (2015) and other relevant UNSC resolutions. The face-to-face negotiations will provide a mechanism for a return to a peaceful and orderly transition based on the GCC Initiative and National Dialogue outcomes.

The parties have committed to reinforce the De-escalation and Co-ordination Committee which will work to bolster adherence to the Cessation of Hostilities. Prominent Yemeni figures will be enlisted to cooperate with the Committee and report on progress and security incidents.
The Yemeni-Yemeni talks will focus on five main areas: 1) the withdrawal of militias and armed groups, 2) the handover of heavy weapons to the State, 3) interim security arrangements, 4) the restoration of state institutions and the resumption of inclusive political dialogue, in addition to 5) the creation of a special committee for prisoners and detainees. I have asked the parties to present concept papers on each of these areas by 3 April. During talks, we will establish committees to discuss each of these areas. These committees will cooperate and work independently to ensure progress.

In order to help Yemen preserve economic stability during this crisis, I have also pursued agreements which seek to preserve the functioning of key state institutions, such as the Central Bank, on which the Yemeni people depend. Preserving their functioning helps current service delivery to those who are in dire need, and will also facilitate a more expedient and efficient economic recovery after an agreement.

The upcoming cessation of hostilities must also seek to ensure that the parties allow safe, rapid and unhindered access for humanitarian supplies to all affected governorates, as well as the increased flow of commercial shipments in the coming weeks.

Finally, I call upon all parties to refrain from any action that could lead towards exacerbating tensions, in order to enable and pave the way for the cessation of hostilities. I would like to take this opportunity to urge them to maintain good faith, as well as a spirit of compromise and patriotism, to enable a political solution and a way out of the present conflict. President Hadi and the heads of the delegations have exhibited commendable flexibility and commitment to the success of the upcoming peace talks. I encourage all concerned parties to support our efforts towards a permanent and durable end of the war.