Proposed UN resolution demands Yemen cease-fire and talks

2016-11-03 12:19
A Yemeni child. (Mohammed Huwais, AFP)

A Yemeni child. (Mohammed Huwais, AFP)

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United Nations — A proposed UN resolution would demand that all parties in Yemen immediately honour an April cease-fire and resume peace negotiations.

The draft Security Council resolution also calls for transparent and timely investigations of alleged violations of international humanitarian and human rights law — and accountability for those responsible for violations and abuses.

Britain's UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said on Tuesday he expects to circulate the draft to the council "in the coming days".

The UN special envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, has drafted a roadmap covering political and security issues. It was immediately rejected by President Abed-Rabbo Mansour Hadi of Yemen's internationally recognised government who would lose power under its provisions.

"We hope he will now receive it, and engage on it in good faith," Rycroft told the council during a meeting on Yemen on Monday, adding that all parties should "return to negotiations on the basis of the roadmap and in a spirit of compromise".

Yemen, on the southern edge of the Arabian Peninsula, has been in the midst of a civil war since September 2014 when Shi’ite Houthi rebels swept into the capital of Sanaa and overthrew Hadi's government. In March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition of Arab countries began a military campaign against Houthi forces, saying its mission served in part as a counterbalance to Iran's influence with the Houthis following its nuclear deal with world powers.

The Saudi-led campaign initially had the logistical and intelligence support of the US, but mounting civilian casualties from its airstrikes led to America pulling back, especially after a Saudi strike last month on a funeral in Sanaa killed around 140 people and wounded over 600.

UN diplomats have stressed that to end the war, both sides need to agree to power-sharing and a new government.

US Ambassador Samantha Power told the council on Monday that "the roadmap addresses the concerns of the Yemeni government about sequenced withdrawals from the key cities of Sanaa, Taiz and Hodeidah".

She said it also addresses concerns of Houthis and their allies about the transition of executive authority.

"The roadmap is a basis for a negotiation — it is not a take-it-or-leave-it proposition," Power said. "Now is not the time for any of the parties to hedge, stall, or add new conditions. The parties should engage with the special envoy immediately to hammer out the details of a final agreement."

Whether that happens remains to be seen.

UN diplomats said Britain worked with the United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in drafting the resolution. The Saudis support the roadmap and are trying to get Hadi to accept it, the diplomats said.

The draft resolution reiterates that "resuming Yemen's peaceful political transition to a democratically governed state should be guided by a new constitution and holding of parliamentary and presidential elections".

It also calls on all parties to take measures to protect civilians and civilian buildings and allow unhindered humanitarian access to those in need.

UN humanitarian chief Stephen O'Brien told the council on Monday that 80% of Yemenis, about 21.2 million people, need some form of humanitarian assistance and over 2 million people, including 370 000 children, are suffering from malnutrition.

Read more on:    yemen  |  un

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