“Engage immediately” with UN to end Yemen conflict urges envoy

Yemen's warring parties need to "engage immediately" with the UN to end the "man-made" humanitarian crisis there.

That's according to the UN Special Envoy for the country, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, addressing the Security Council on Tuesday.

He said that despite his efforts to broker a peace deal, there was no end in sight to the conflict which has brought seven million to the brink of famine.

Matthew Wells reports.

The Special Envoy said that the Yemeni population was becoming increasingly militarized by the struggle between forces loyal to the President and their allies, and Houthi rebels, who control the capital and other parts of the country.

A quarter of the population can't afford food, while half lack access to clean water and sanitation services, fuelling a cholera outbreak that has led to 60,000 suspected cases.

He said the lack of wages for civil servants and overall destruction of the economy needed Yemen's leaders to come together in order to save their war-torn country from catastrophe.

His words are spoken by an interpreter.

"I urge the Council to strongly convey to the parties that they need to engage immediately with the United Nations to agree on steps to avoid further bloodshed, to halt the slide towards famine and to recommit to a peaceful end to the war. The humanitarian crisis and the threat of famine are entirely man-made. If the conflict stops Yemenis and their partners and the international community have the capacity and the will to rebuild the country."

He said the attack on his own convoy last week in the capital, Sana'a, had only increased his determination to press for a negotiated peace settlement.

He told the Council that a compromise between the warring parties had to be found in order to keep the port of Hudaydah open to vital humanitarian supplies.

Meanwhile, UN relief chief Stephen O'Brien told members that the looming famine and vast humanitarian needs of Yemen, were a "direct consequence" of inaction by the international community as a whole.

Source: United Nations Radio