RIYADH (RAHNUMA): The United Nations has called for opening the port of Hodeidah and Sanaa airport and the “vital” implementation of the Riyadh Agreement in Yemen.
Speaking during a UN Security Council session, Khaled Mohamed Khiari, assistant secretary-general for Middle East, Asia and the Pacific, said fighting continues in Yemen on more than one front.
He said the UN was concerned about the humanitarian situation in Marib province and a fuel crisis in Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen.
“Unfortunately, since the last Security Council session on Yemen there has been no further progress in the UN’s ongoing efforts to reach an agreement based on the four-point plan presented to the parties, which is comprised of a nationwide cease-fire, the re-opening of Sanaa airport, the easing of restrictions on the flow of fuel and other commodities through Hodeidah port, and the resumption of face-to-face political negotiations between the Yemeni parties,” Khiari said.
“Negotiations facilitated by Saudi Arabia on the Riyadh Agreement, which were focused on the return of the prime minister and other ministers to Aden, have yet to resume following the Eid break in early July,” he said. “No date has been set for recommencing these efforts.”
Khiari also said progress on implementing the Riyadh Agreement remains vital to addressing the tensions in the south, particularly since the security situation in Aden and the southern governorates continues to deteriorate.
The Riyadh Agreement was signed by the Yemeni government and the Southern Transitional Council in late 2019 to defuse hostilities in the south so the two sides could focus their efforts on the war with Houthi militants in the north. The agreement led to the formation of a new unity administration that included the separatists.
UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, said civilians, especially children, in Yemen bear the burden of war, which has caused an economic collapse.
The former UN special envoy to Yemen said the currency is collapsing and negatively affecting the lives of Yemenis.
Griffiths called for an increase in aid from donors to avert famine, adding that 5 million Yemenis are one step away from famine.
The former UN special envoy to Yemen said a cease-fire in the war torn country would allow for an inclusive political process.
“The war has gone on far too long and must end now,” he added.
Linda Thomas Greenfield, US ambassador to the UN, said the conflict in Yemen is a rare case where the Security Council and the world community share a consensus.
“The Houthi offensive on Marib has stalled but it has not become any less brutal,” she said, adding that June was the deadliest month for civilians in nearly two years.
The Iran-backed Houthis mounted a devastating offensive on Marib in February in an effort to control one of the last remaining government strongholds, further exacerbating the humanitarian crisis.
“We have all seen images of Houthi missile strikes that kill women and children,” she told Security Council members, while calling for an immediate cease-fire.
Greenfield said the Arab coalition and the Yemeni government have shown openness to a cease-fire but the Houthis seem determined to continue their military campaign. “This is the moment to change their minds.”
However, she said that “we should not forget the abuses that the Houthis inflict on children and recruiting them for military training.
“Children are not warriors and this cannot continue. We must keep children safe and allow them to pursue education,” she added.
On the SAFER tanker that is moored in the Red Sea, Greenfield said that due to their delays and unreasonable demands, the “Houthis have squandered the opportunity the UN afforded them to avert an environmental catastrophe.”
The group has repeatedly prevented access to UN experts to assess the tanker which has been described as an environmental ticking time bomb as it could cause a catastrophic leak that the UN warns could spill four times as much oil as the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil disaster.
Yemen’s ambassador to the UN, Abdullah Ali Fadhel Al-Saadi, said the Yemeni people cannot sustain any more humanitarian suffering, while the Iranian-supported Houthi militia continued to destroy the country.
Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, Anna Evstigneeva, also told the Security Council that Moscow was “concerned” about the Houthi attacks on Saudi infrastructure from Yemen.
The Houthis have stepped up their cross border attacks on Saudi Arabia’s southern region in recent months, targeting populated areas and vital installations.