UN chief names Swedish diplomat Grundberg as new Yemen envoy

Hans Grundberg to replace Martin Griffiths, who tried to mediate an end to the conflict in Yemen for the past three years.

Smoke and dust rise near buildings from air raids launched by Saudi Arabia-led coalition on Sanaa, Yemen [File: Khaled Abdullah/Reuters]

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has named Swedish diplomat Hans Grundberg as his new Yemen envoy after a delay of several weeks as China considered whether to approve the appointment, which needed consensus Security Council agreement.

The 15-member council approved Grundberg this week as a replacement for Martin Griffiths, who became the UN aid chief last month after trying to mediate an end to the conflict in Yemen for the past three years.

The war has killed tens of thousands of people and caused a dire humanitarian crisis, pushing Yemen to the brink of famine.

Grundberg has been the European Union ambassador to Yemen since September 2019.

UN officials informally floated his name to council members to solicit views by mid-July and 14 members said they would agree to the appointment, diplomats said.

But China said it needed more time. An official with China’s UN mission in New York declined to comment on why Beijing’s approval had been delayed.

A Saudi Arabia-led military coalition intervened in neighbouring Yemen in 2015 after the Iran-aligned Houthi group overthrew the country’s government from the capital, Sanaa.

The Houthis say they are fighting a corrupt system. Yemen President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government is now in Aden, though Hadi is based in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

Source: Reuters