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UN envoy warns Yemen is one step away from famine

June 25, 2015 at 9:48 am

The UN envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed warned yesterday that the war-torn country is “one step away from famine” as 31 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance compared to just two million two years ago.

The UN official told reporters in New York after briefing the Security Council that all parties to the Yemeni crisis bear a moral responsibility to broker a humanitarian truce and cease hostilities during the month of Ramadan.

“It is imperative for all the parties – and for me everybody is responsible – to find a truce,” Ould Cheikh Ahmed said.

Earlier, he presented Security Council members with several ideas to resolve the crisis.

“Our goal is to reach a ceasefire that includes the withdrawal of Houthi militias from cities they control,” he added.

The Anadolu Agency learned from diplomatic sources who attended the meeting that Ould Cheikh Ahmed briefed the Council members on the results of Geneva consultations held from June 15-19.

According to diplomatic sources, who declined to be named, the UN envoy outlined a set of points on a solution to the crisis which included “the need for a ceasefire, an orderly withdrawal of Houthi forces from cities, monitoring and verification mechanisms, an agreement to respect international humanitarian law and not to hinder the deployment of humanitarian aid operations; and a commitment to engage in talks mediated by the United Nations.”

Ould Cheikh Ahmed said he plans to visit Riyadh next week to conduct further consultations before he travels the Yemeni capital, Sanaa.

In response to a question about the Houthi group’s inability to meet the UN secretary-general during Geneva consultations, He said: “The secretary-general was keen to meet with all parties and he delayed his departure date from Geneva twice in order to meet with everyone, but due to pre-scheduled commitments in New York, the secretary-general had to leave Geneva… the secretary-general will meet a representative of the Houthi group in the future.”

Meanwhile, secretary-general spokesman Estefan Dogrec confirmed that Ban Ki-moon’s office will examine the special envoy’s request to deploy observers in the country.

“Today the special envoy to Yemen spoke to members of the UN Security Council and we will examine his request to deploy observers on the ground,” he told reporters in New York.