Ould Sheikh: Houthis Blocked Agreement on Peace Proposal in Yemen

A roadmap for peace in Yemen exists but parties to the conflict need to build confidence among themselves and launch it, according to UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed.

“Today, I would like to announce, for the first time, that we were about to reach agreement on a peace proposal, developed in consultation with the parties, but they refused to sign in the last minute. At the end of the consultations, it became clear that the Houthis were not prepared to make concessions on the proposed security arrangements. This has been a major stumbling block towards reaching a negotiated solution,” said Cheikh Ahmed, who steps down from his mission on Wednesday.

Cheikh Ahmed, who began his mission in April 2015, said that the last two months witnessed a renewed and large-scale escalation of military confrontations in al-Hodeidah, al-Jawf, Sanaa and al-Baida as well as areas along the Yemeni-Saudi border.

“Houthis continue to fire ballistic missiles into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” he reported.

He told UN officials that fighting in Taiz governorate has been particularly bloody and destructive and while Aden and the neighboring governorates have been the scene of continuous clashes.

During the latest outbreak of violence in the city on 28 January, dozens of people were killed and hundreds more were injured, according to the envoy.

“I am also seriously concerned by reports from several humanitarian organizations on the recruitment of thousands of child soldiers by all parties to the conflict, which constitutes a flagrant violation of children’s rights.

“While the reports indicate that all warring parties have engaged in such practices, the systematic recruitment of children by the Houthis may have negative implications on the future of the country,” he added.

Yemen’s economic and humanitarian crisis has deepened, making it the world’s largest man-made humanitarian crisis. Since 2015, Yemen’s economy has shrunk by almost 40 percent. In 2017, the value of the Yemeni riyal dropped by more than 50 percent, indicated Ould Cheikh.

He reported that about 22.2 million Yemenis are now in need of some form of humanitarian assistance, compared to 15.9 million in March 2015.

In this context, the envoy welcomed the generous pledge of $1 billion by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to support humanitarian action and reconstruction in Yemen, as well as their commitment to raise an additional $500 million from other donors in the region.

Ould Cheikh hoped these initiatives “will materialize, and that the funds pledged will be disbursed the soonest to improve the current precarious situation.”

Ould Cheikh also revealed that over the past three years, a solid foundation for an agreement has been laid through the endorsement of the general framework in Biel in 2015 and the discussions that took place in Kuwait in 2016.

“I call on the parties to cease hostilities, reactivate negotiations aimed at a peaceful settlement,” he urged.

In their speeches, these politicians will stir up strife to deepen the rift in the Yemeni society and at other times, they declare pro-peace positions, while in private circles, they look indifferent to the suffering of their people. “Whoever wants peace creates solutions, not excuses,” he reiterated.

“The only part missing is the commitment of parties to make concessions and give priority to the national interest,” he said, wishing Martin Griffiths, the newly-appointed UN Special Envoy for Yemen, every success in his efforts.

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