A UN conference designed to end the violence in Yemen has been postponed after the exiled government refused to participate, officials said, handing a huge blow to efforts to end the fighting.
Sultan al-Atwani, an aide to exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, said the UN-brokered talks scheduled for May 28 had been “indefinitely postponed” after the Houthis refused to indicate their commitment to implement a Security Council resolution.
“The attacks on Aden, Taiz, Ad-Dali’ and Shabwa make it difficult to go to Geneva,” Atwani told the Reuters news agency, naming southern provinces that have become war zones.
Other Yemeni politicians and a UN official speaking to to news agencies on condition of anonymity confirmed that the talks had been postponed.
Yemen’s government, which has fled to neighbouring Saudi Arabia, has demanded the Houthis recognise its authority and withdraw from the country’s main cities – two points demanded by a UN resolution last month.
UN Security Council resolution 2216 calls on the Houthis to relinquish territory they seized and surrender weapons they took from the army and other state institutions.
The Houthis southward push forced Hadi to flee his southern stronghold, the port city of Aden to Riyadh and prompted an Arab coalition to launch air strikes against the rebels on March 26.
According to the UN, nearly 2,000 people have been killed in the bombing campaign and fighting between the Houthis and Hadi loyalists.
Despite nearly two months of air raids and street battles, the rebels still maintain control over much of the country.
Aid trickles in
More than 545,000 people have been displaced and although some aid trickled in last week during a five-day ceasefire, people still lack basic needs, including water, electricity and fuel.
A ship carrying 460 tonnes of Emirati humanitarian aid docked on Sunday in Aden.
The shipment, including medical and food supplies, is the second from the United Arab Emirates following the delivery of 1,200 tonnes of aid last week, said local aid coordinator Ali al-Bikri.
Another ship carrying 400 tonnes of diesel also arrived on Friday, said Bikri, who was appointed by Yemen’s government-in-exile.
“Aden needs urgently at least 200,000 food rations for the displaced,” Bikri added.
Aden has been rocked by fierce fighting between the Houthi rebels backed by troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and southern fighters allied with the exiled Hadi.