Middle East

War in Yemen is ‘back in full force,’ says UN mediator

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The war in Yemen is “back in full force,” the United Nations mediator told the Security Council on Tuesday amid renewed attempts to get the warring parties to talk and UN warnings that the country is spiraling toward a massive famine.

Martin Griffiths told the council that there had been a dramatic deterioration in the more than six-year-long war with a Huthi offensive on Marib – the Yemeni government’s last northern stronghold – putting millions of civilians at risk.

“We are also seeing other fronts in Yemen opening, including with military escalations in Hajjah and Taiz and Hudaydah. The war is back in full force,” he told the 15-member council. 

A Saudi Arabia-led military coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015 after the Iran-aligned Huthi group ousted the country’s government from the capital Sanaa. The Huthis say they are fighting a corrupt system.

US President Joe Biden has made ending the war in Yemen a priority. His special envoy Tim Lenderking said on Friday that a “sound plan” for a ceasefire in Yemen had been before the Huthi leadership for “a number of days”.

“The death and violence must stop. We call on the Huthis to accept an immediate, comprehensive, nationwide ceasefire and to cease all attacks. In the meantime, we will continue to hold Huthi leadership to account,” US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the council.

The United Nations describes Yemen as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Some 80 percent of Yemenis need help, with 400,000 children under the age of five severely malnourished, according to UN data. For much of its food, the country relies on imports that have been disrupted over the years by all warring parties.

“A nationwide ceasefire, along with the opening of Sanaa airport and ensuring the unhindered flow of fuel and other commodities into Yemen through Hodeidah ports, are urgent humanitarian imperatives,” Griffiths said.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Mark Heinrich

FILE PHOTO: Martin Griffiths, United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen, speaks as he attends the closing plenary of the fourth meeting of the Supervisory Committee on the Implementation of the Prisoners’ Exchange Agreement in Yemen, in Glion, Switzerland, September 27, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

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