Jeddah-The International Security Council listened to a review by the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen on the inter-Yemeni peace talks in Kuwait that have been carried out for two months now.
Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, speaking by video teleconference from Kuwait City, said the talks — which began on 21 April — have been moving slowly, yet constructively, and while some difficulties remained to be addressed, he was reassured by the commitment of the two delegations.
So far, the talks had been characterized by “an extraordinary openness”, Ould Cheikh Ahmed said, explaining how he listened carefully to both parties’ views and concerns before coming up with a road map leading to implementation of security arrangements specified in Security Council resolution 2216 (2015), the establishment of a national unity government and the setting up of national and international monitoring mechanisms.
“The delegations have responded positively to the proposals, but have not yet reached agreement on the sequencing of the different steps provided for in the road map”, such as when a national unity government would be created, he said.
The cessation of hostilities declared on 10 April relieved many parts of Yemen from violence, he said, with the De-escalation and Coordination Committee and local disengagement councils playing a key role.
Nevertheless, serious violations still occurred, including the shelling of a popular market in Taiz that had resulted in civilian casualties, and violations in Ma’rib, Al Jawf, and areas bordering Saudi Arabia.
Despite progress at the negotiating table, living conditions for Yemenis had severely worsened, he said. The failure to provide basic services, in addition to hot weather and lack of electricity in Aden, Hodayya and elsewhere had exacerbated the health crisis Yemenis are living.
At the same time, Yemen’s economy deteriorated, with gross domestic product (GDP) shrinking by more than 30 per cent since January, he said. The Central
Bank was ensuring the importation of basic commodities, such as rice, wheat and medicines, but such support would become more difficult in the weeks ahead.
“The humanitarian situation in Yemen is alarming and there are credible reports by humanitarian organizations warning of a catastrophe should the situation not be addressed rapidly,” he said.
Ould Cheikh Ahmed welcomed the release of prisoners at the beginning of Ramadan. Yet he said that this limited step had been accompanied by a systematic persecution of civilians, including journalists and civil society activists, calling on all parties to halt such acts and fulfil their obligations under international human rights law.
Drawing attention to the plight of prisoners who had been unjustly detained by rebels in “flagrant violation” of humanitarian and human rights law, he called on the Council to continue to pressure the militias to release prisoners in line with resolution 2216 (2015), and reaffirmed his government’s commitment to work towards a lasting peace in Yemen.