UN envoy Griffiths arrives in Sanaa to push for peace talks

Griffiths, whose peace efforts failed in September, will try to get Houthis and government to sit down for talks again.

UN envoy Martin Griffiths attends a news conference on Yemen talks at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland September 8, 2018
The envoy said on Friday that Yemen's parties have given 'firm assurances' they are committed to attending peace talks [File: Reuters]

Martin Griffiths, the United Nations special envoy to Yemen, has arrived in the capital city of Sanaa for his renewed push to get Yemen’s warring parties around the negotiating table.

Griffiths, whose efforts to launch peace talks collapsed in September, will try to get the Iran-backed Houthi rebels and the government, supported by Saudi Arabia, to sit down for talks again.

The envoy had said on November 16 that Yemen’s parties have given “firm assurances” they are committed to attending peace talks he hopes to convene in Sweden before the end of the year to agree on a framework for peace under a transitional government.

Earlier in the week, intense fighting broke out in Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah, now a focus of the war, shattering a lull in violence that had raised hopes of a ceasefire between the two sides.


The Saudi-UAE coalition warplanes reportedly conducted air attacks on Houthi positions in Hodeidah recently.

Under heavy Western pressure, the government and its Saudi-led military backers have largely suspended a five-month-old offensive on the Red Sea port city.

The Houthi group had announced on Monday it was halting drone and missile attacks on Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and their Yemeni allies, in one of its biggest concessions since it quit the southern port city of Aden in 2015. The group also said that it was ready for a broader ceasefire.

Hodeidah is virtually the sole gateway to the capital and rebel-held territory in the densely populated highlands, and some 80 percent of commercial food imports and all UN-supervised humanitarian aid pass through its docks.

Millions at risk of starvation

Western allies, including the United States, have called for a ceasefire before peace efforts to end the nearly four-year-old war that has killed more than 10,000 people, according to the World Health Organization, and caused the world’s most urgent humanitarian crisis.

UN agencies say up to 14 million Yemenis are at risk of starvation if the port of Hodeidah is closed by fighting or damage.


Aid group Save the Children reported on Wednesday that as many as 85,000 children may have starved to death in the past three years during its brutal war.

Using data compiled by the UN, Save the Children evaluated mortality rates for untreated cases of severe malnutrition in children under five years old.

Western countries have provided arms and intelligence to the Arab states in the alliance, but have shown increasing reservations about the war since the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul last month.

The Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen’s war in 2015 to restore the internationally recognised government that was removed from the capital Sanaa by the Houthis in 2014. The conflict is seen as a proxy war between Riyadh and Tehran.

Source: News Agencies