The Iran-backed Houthi militia’s closure of Sanaa Airport to aid is “very worrying,” warned the United Nations envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, as he briefed the UN Security Council session on the latest developments in the war-torn country on Tuesday.
Griffiths also expressed deep concerns towards the continued military campaign mounted by the Houthis in Yemen’s Marib governorate.
“The situation in Marib is of concern. Military shifts in Marib have ripple effects on conflict dynamics. If Marib falls, it'd undermine prospects of convening an inclusive political process that brings about a transition based on partnership and plurality,” Griffiths said.
"Earlier this year, I warned that Yemen was at a critical juncture. I said either the guns would be silenced the political process would resume, or Yemen would slip back away from the road to peace. Alas, this is exactly what seems to be happening," he added.
“Last week I sent the two parties an advanced draft of the Joint Declaration which reflects and balances their comments and incorporates inputs from civil society and women. My appeal is simple. Choose peace. End this conflict. Work with us urgently on the Joint Declaration."
Reiterating his call for a ceasefire, Griffiths told the UNSC: “We expect to see the parties meet this week in Switzerland to continue discussing the implementation of prisoner exchanges under the joint auspices of my Office and International Committee of the Red Cross. I hope the meeting results in the release of these prisoners given the COVID-19 threat.”
Highlighting the role of the civil society in the resolution of the conflict, Griffiths told the UNSC that its “role is central in maintaining the pressure for a peaceful resolution. My Office is engaging Yemeni civil society regarding the Joint Declaration negotiations is discussing plans to ensure their meaningful inclusion in a future political process.”
The UN special envoy called the situation “very dire” but said the parties can choose to make compromises to allow for a political settlement.
The Acting Deputy Representative of the US to the UN, Ambassador Cherith Norman Chalet, criticized the UNSC during the briefing over its failure to counter Iranian aggression and inability to stop Tehran from smuggling weapons into Yemen.
The UN humanitarian chief, Mark Lowcock, addressing the Council, condemned the Houthis’ closure of the airport in Sanaa to UN and humanitarian flights.