United Nations, Dec 7: Highly anticipated UN-brokered consultations about substantive talks which could lead to an end to more than three years of brutal conflict across Yemen, have begun in Sweden.
Brutal fighting has left the Middle East nation divided between Government and rebel forces, with millions on the brink of famine, and the economy and society in ruins. The Yemen war has killed more than 17,000 people and pushed the country to the brink of famine.
UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, on Wednesday extended his “appreciation to the Government of Sweden for hosting the political consultations, and the Government of Kuwait for facilitating the travel of the Sana’a delegation” to the talks, referring to representatives of the Houthi rebel movement, who were allowed to fly out of the Yemeni capital a few days ago.
The UN attempted to bring the parties together – the Houthis and officially-recognized Government delegation – in Geneva in September for consultations, but conditions to allow the Houthi delegation to reach the Swiss city, did not materialise.
Across Yemen, more than 22 million people – over three-quarters of the population – are dependent on humanitarian assistance or protection, of whom over 8 million are severely food insecure and at risk of starvation.
The conflict, which escalated in early 2015, following a Saudi-led military intervention against a Houthi rebel insurgency, at the request of the Yemeni Government, has also wrecked the country’s medical, water and sanitation systems, resulting in multiple outbreaks of cholera and other deadly diseases.
Thousands of civilians have also perished in airstrikes and fighting. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), all parties to the conflict display a disregard for international humanitarian and human rights law and have impeded the principled and timely delivery of humanitarian assistance. UNI