UN envoy on Yemen presses on towards political solution with meetings in Cairo

5 August 2015 | Press Releases

Yemen, 4 August 2015 – The United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen met with officials in Cairo as part of the ongoing efforts to reach a political solution to a conflict that has led to just over 1,900 civilian deaths since fighting erupted in March and caused almost 100,000 people to flee the country.

A refugee from Yemen hides from the scorching sun in Obock, northern Djibouti. Obock has become a safe haven for hundreds of people fleeing increasingly violent conflict in Yemen. Photo: UNHCR/H. McNeish

A refugee from Yemen hides from the scorching sun in Obock, northern Djibouti. Obock has become a safe haven for hundreds of people fleeing increasingly violent conflict in Yemen. Photo: UNHCR/H. McNeish

Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed met with the Secretary-General of the Arab League, Nabil Elaraby, with whom he exchanged views on the situation in Yemen and the peace process, UN spokesperson Ahmad Fawzi told reporters in Geneva.

The Secretary-General said that “the League, when the time came, would consider seriously the question of monitors, in case of a ceasefire,” said Mr. Fawzi.

While in the Egyptian capital, the Special Envoy also met with the Secretary-General, the Deputy Secretary-General and key leaders of the General People’s Congress.

“The Special Envoy still feels, as he did in Geneva, that there is momentum for a political solution to be reached and he is pushing all parties in that direction,” said Mr. Fawzi.

Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed will soon travel to Oman for meetings, followed by a visit to Saudi Arabia, before traveling to New York to brief the Security Council.

Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said today that almost 100,000 people have fled Yemen since conflict erupted there in late March but the agency’s regional response to this outflow is just one fifth funded.

“With funding also low for operations inside Yemen, UNHCR is concerned that delivery of assistance there, as well as to refugees fleeing the country, will be at risk without additional funding soon,” spokesperson Adrian Edwards said at a press briefing in Geneva.

UNHCR requires $105.6 million for its emergency response inside Yemen. It has only received about 23 per cent of that.

Some 1.2 million internally displaced people and approximately 250,000 refugees continue to need assistance in extremely challenging conditions with severely restricted access, UNHCR noted.

The conflict continues to cause death, injuries and damage to homes and infrastructure. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reported today that the civilian death toll in Yemen has risen to at least 1,916, with another 4,186 civilians wounded since the escalation of the armed conflict in March.

Also, over the past few weeks, there have been two “particularly devastating” attacks in residential areas, according to spokesperson Cécile Pouilly. On 19 July, 95 civilians, including 29 children, were killed and 198 injured in Aden in the Al Ghaleel Residential Area, which is home to members of the Al-Muhamasheen community, a marginalized group in Yemen. The attacks were reportedly conducted by the Houthi Popular Committees using mortar shelling. Fourteen civilian homes also incurred extensive structural damage.

Then on 24 July, at least 73 civilians, including 11 children, were killed and 93 injured, when two residential compounds in Taiz were hit. The compounds housed the families of workers of Al Mokha Steam Power Plant. According to eyewitness, the residential compounds were hit by nine missiles. OHCHR is working on verifying reports of the source of the attacks.

“We are also deeply concerned about attacks against civilian infrastructure, including places of worship, hospitals and schools,” Ms. Pouilly told reporters.

“We urge all parties, again, to ensure that they, at all times, distinguish between civilian and military targets, comply with the principle of proportionality when conducting military operations and take all feasible precautions to avoid, and in any event to minimise, the impact of violence on civilians.”