Ban Ki-moon: ‘Serious violations’ of Yemen ceasefire

Ban Ki-Moon heads to Kuwait to rescue faltering negotiations as air strikes reportedly kill seven people.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said “serious violations” have been committed in the current ceasefire in Yemen, and called on warring forces to reach a peace deal before the conflict claims more casualties. 

Ban told Yemeni negotiators gathered in Kuwait on Sunday that time was not on the side of the Yemeni people, pointing to food shortages and risks to the economy, as well as repeated breaches of a shaky ceasefire in force since April 10.

Medical facilities crippled by war

“There is an alarming scarcity of basic food items. The economy is in precarious condition,” Ban said.

“While the cessation of hostilities is mostly holding, there have been serious violations, causing further casualties and suffering among the civilian population, including children.”

Ban also called on Yemeni negotiators to heed the example of Colombia in reaching a peace deal. He said the agreement signed on Thursday showed what could be done when parties to a conflict were determined to resolve their differences, rather than destroy their rivals.

Ban’s intervention came two months into the on-and-off talks between the internationally recognised government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi on one side and Houthi rebels allied with forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh on the other.

Since March 2015 and up to June 2016, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has documented a total of 3,539 civilians killed in Yemen and 6,268 injured.

According to the UN, at least seven million people, a quarter of Yemen's population, are facing a food emergency situation [EPA]
According to the UN, at least seven million people, a quarter of Yemen’s population, are facing a food emergency situation [EPA]

As the peace talks stumble, violence continues on the ground.

Reports on Sunday said two air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition killed five people in Khawlan district, southeast of the capital Sanaa, and two more in Qubaita district, between the provinces of Taiz and Lahej. 

There was no immediate comment from the coalition. Al Jazeera could also not independently verify the reports.

The Saudi-led coalition says it does not target civilians in Yemen and has been observing a truce, acting only in response to Houthi violations.

Ban came under criticism earlier this month for pulling criticism of the Saudi-led bombing campaign against the Houthis from a UN report on violence against children.

The UN chief admitted that he had taken the move after what he said was “undue pressure” from unnamed member states, including threats to withdraw funding from various UN agencies. 

Yemen’s conflict intensified in March 2015 when the Houthis advanced on Hadi’s temporary capital in the southern city of Aden. That action prompted Saudi Arabia and its allies to start an air campaign in Yemen against the rebels.

Source: News Agencies