UN envoy to Yemen invites warring parties to meet in September

Martin Griffiths says proposed talks in the Swiss city of Geneva will lay groundwork for peace negotiations.

Displaced Yemenis
Griffiths cautioned that the situation for millions of Yemeni civilians could worsen if a solution to the conflict is not reached [Khaled Abdullah/Reuters]

The United Nations‘ special envoy for Yemen has said he plans to invite the country’s warring factions to hold talks in the Swiss city of Geneva in September.

Speaking before the UN’s Security Council, Martin Griffiths said on Thursday he hopes the meeting will allow the government and Houthi rebels to discuss “the framework for negotiations, to agree on relevant confidence-building measures and specific plans for moving the process forward”.

“[It has been] two years since the last round in Kuwait so my principal message and request to this council today is that we urge the parties to resolve this conflict through negotiation rather than through military means,” Griffiths said.

“After having consulted with the parties, I plan to therefore invite them to Geneva on September 6 for a first round of consultations.”

Griffiths, who is the third to take on the task of bringing an end to hostilities in the Arab world’s poorest nations, commended the support he has received from both sides.

He cautioned however that the situation for millions of Yemeni civilians could worsen if a solution to the conflict is not reached within a reasonable timeframe.

Al Jazeera’s Rosiland Jordan, reporting from the UN headquarters in New York, said that Griffiths was not trying to address a specific hotspot in the Yemeni conflict but is rather looking for a comprehensive peace settlement and restore a “semblance of normality for the millions of Yemenis who have been living under a very brutal civil war for the past several years”.

“Does this mean it’s going to be a one time and they are going to find an actual political solution? Probably not but there is a real sense that this is the moment to try to get both sides back into some sort of conversation about ending their political gripes.” 

Earlier on Thursday, air raids by a Saudi and UAE-led coalition battling Houthi rebels, killed at least 20 people in Hodeidah, according to one count, while other death tolls put the figure higher. The attacks, which fell close to the city’s main public hospital, al-Thawra, hit the strategic city’s fishing port and fish market.

The war in Yemen, the region’s poorest country, started in 2014 after the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels seized control of the capital, Sanaa, and began pushing south towards the country’s third-biggest city Aden.

Concerned by the rise of the Houthi rebels, Saudi Arabia and a coalition of Arab states launched a military offensive in 2015 in the form of a massive air campaign aimed at reinstalling the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Since then, more than 10,000 people have been killed and at least 40,000 wounded, mostly from Saudi-led air raids.

Source: Al Jazeera