UN: Military operations escalate in Yemen as famine looms

AP News
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Posted: Mar 29, 2017 10:07 PM

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Military operations in Yemen are escalating and the humanitarian and economic situation is rapidly deteriorating in the Arab world's poorest nation, which is on the brink of famine, the U.N. special envoy for the country said Wednesday.

Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed urged the U.N. Security Council to pressure Yemen's government and Shiite Houthi rebels "to engage constructively" on political and security measures that he presented to them aimed at ending the war and creating a transitional government.

A Saudi-led military coalition, supported by the United States, began striking the rebels and their allies in March 2015, hoping to drive the Houthis from the capital, Sanaa, and restore the internationally recognized government. But the rebels remain in control of Sanaa and much of northern Yemen.

The conflict, which has killed more than 10,000 civilians and displaced over 3 million people, has ground into a stalemate and U.N. peace efforts have faltered.

"It is my firm belief that further military escalation and humanitarian suffering will not bring the parties closer together," Ahmed told the council.

He reiterated his call to the international community to speak with a unified and bold voice to the parties. And he urged the Security Council to "use all of its diplomatic weight to push for the relevant parties to make the concessions required to reach a final agreement before more lives are lost."

"We must give peace another chance," Ahmed said.

The council called on all parties "to engage meaningfully" with the special envoy's proposals and "make progress towards a cease-fire and an enduring political settlement." It also called for regional efforts "to be harmonized."

"The situation in Yemen is increasingly grave and distressing," the council's members said in a statement. "Civilians are paying the highest price for the ongoing violence."

The council called on all parties to the conflict to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid and commercial imports, including food, through all ports in Yemen, including Hodeida, to avert famine.