In Kuwait today, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed concern over the situation in Yemen, urging the delegations involved in the UN-supported Yemeni peace talks to prevent a further deterioration of the situation and arrive at a comprehensive agreement ending the conflict.

"The situation in Yemen is of profound concern. Not only to me and the United Nations, but also to you and all of your people, and all of the countries in the region," the Secretary-General said in remarks to the Yemeni delegations at the peace talks, which are being hosted by Kuwait.

"There is an alarming scarcity of basic food items. The economy is in precarious condition. Whilst the cessation of hostilities is mostly holding, there have been serious violations, causing further casualties and suffering amongst the civilian population, including children," he added.

Expressing appreciation to the delegations for meeting together to resolve the crisis in a peaceful manner and through a political dialogue, Mr. Ban said he was encouraged by their commitment over a period of many weeks to reach a successful outcome.

"This worrying situation gives you, the delegations to the Yemeni talks, a very serious responsibility. You have a moral and political responsibility," the UN chief said.

"But time is not on the side of the Yemeni people. With every day that the conflict remains unresolved, their situation grows worse. The longer the conflict endures, the more time it will take for Yemen to recover," he added.

Reiterating the position of the international community, the Secretary-General emphasized that the conflict must end, and Yemen must return to the transitional process and work towards the implementation of the outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference.

"I therefore urge the delegations to prevent any further deterioration of the situation, and to show the responsibility and flexibility required to arrive at a comprehensive agreement ending the conflict," Mr. Ban said.

Encouraging the delegations to work for the goals of ending the violence, addressing the roots of the conflict and working together to build a better future for all Yemenis, Mr. Ban assured them of the support of the UN to meet those goals.

He also asked both delegations to "work seriously" with his Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, to agree to a roadmap of principles, to commit to upholding the cessation of hostilities, to reflect on the progress that has been made to date, and to quickly reach a comprehensive agreement.

In addition, the Secretary-General urged the release of all prisoners, including political detainees, journalists, civil society activists and others, as a goodwill gesture ahead of the Eid holiday.

During his visit to Kuwait, the Secretary-General also met with the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, and several other Kuwaiti government officials.

Ban also spoke by telephone with the Prime Minister of Iraq, Haider al-Abadi, whom he congratulated on the progress made by the Iraqi security forces in retaking areas from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da'esh).

"The Secretary-General expressed concerns over reports of serious human rights abuses against civilians displaced from Fallujah and welcomed the Prime Minister's decision to establish an investigative committee to look into all alleged abuses," said Mr. Ban's spokesman in a statement.

The Secretary-General and Mr. al-Abadi also discussed the pressing humanitarian needs in many parts of Iraq. In this regard, the Secretary-General stressed the urgent need to increase funding for the Humanitarian Response Plan for Iraq, which is currently only 33 per cent funded.

Source: UN News Centre

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