Yemen peace talks get under way

16 Dec 15

United Nations-sponsored talks to resolve conflict and establish a ceasefire in Yemen kicked off in Geneva yesterday with the declaration that parties had agreed to suspend hostilities.

The conflict in the Arab country began in 2011 but dramatically increased in severity this year with the launch of Saudi Arabian air strikes. This has brought Yemen to the brink of famine, its public services to the brink of collapse and humanitarian agencies unable to adequately respond to the crisis.

Earlier this week the World Health Organisation appealed for $31m as the situation reached “catastrophic levels” and threatened the continuity of the health service relied upon by nearly 15 million people.

Pregnant women, malnourished children and the injured and elderly are bearing the brunt of the health service collapse, warned the WHO. It urged donors to plug the funding gap and ensure the continuity of life-saving services.

Ould Cheikh Ahmed, UN special envoy for Yemen, said: “The cessation of hostilities which was called today should mark the end of military violence in Yemen and the transition to progress based on negotiations, dialogue and consensus.”

He welcomed the declaration as a “critical first step towards building a lasting peace in the country”, and warned that anyone who “does not participate in the solution is effectively ing to perpetuate the crisis”.

The talks are being attended by 24 Yemeni representatives and advisors, and UN experts will be present to negotiate improved humanitarian access and delivery and to aid in the development of a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire.

Conflict began in the country during the Arab Spring in 2011, after long-serving dictator Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi was deposed. Groups have been warring ever since, with the forces mainly split between those loyal to Hadi and those allied to the rebels who oppose him.

Ahmed said it is hoped the talks will create a general framework for a comprehensive agreement on how to put an end to the crisis, and all present were there to work towards that common goal.

“This meeting is [the Yemeni people’s] only glimmer of hope and must not be extinguished,” he said.

UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon also welcomed the talks saying that peaceful and inclusive dialogue is the only way to end “suffering and rebuild confidence, trust and mutual respect amongst the Yemeni people following months of civil war and thousands of lives lost”.

  • Emma Rumney

    Emma is a reporter at Otsubo7 International. She also writes for in the UK.

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