The United Nations Special Envoy to Yemen, Hans Grundberg, has said there should be no preconditions for urgent political talks between the country’s warring parties.
He warned that the military escalation has taken an “alarming turn” in Marib and its surroundings, in light of the Iranian-backed Houthis’ encirclement of the Abdiyah district.
His remarks were made during a briefing on Thursday to the UN Security Council in New York on the situation in Yemen.
He first briefed the council about his numerous consultations with Yemeni, regional and international actors, noting that the talks focused on how to move toward a sustainable political solution to end the conflict.
“Yemenis without exception stressed the necessity to end the war. They also highlighted the urgency of addressing economic and humanitarian concerns, including stabilizing the economy, improving the delivery of basic services and facilitating freedom of movement within as well as in and out of the country,” he stated.
However, Grundberg pointed out that the “gap in trust between warring parties is wide and growing,” saying he met with the Yemeni government in Riyadh and Aden, and with Houthis in Muscat.
“While interim progress should be made on urgent humanitarian and economic matters, a durable solution can only be achieved through a comprehensive negotiated political settlement,” he stressed.
“I have been clear in all my engagements that there should be no preconditions for these urgent political talks. And humanitarian measures should not be used as political leverage.”
Grundberg urged parties to take necessary measures to pay salaries and open roads in Taiz, Marib and elsewhere.
“Restrictions on the import of fuel and goods through Hodeidah port must end, fuel needs to be available for civilian use without restrictions and Sanaa airport needs to open for civilian traffic,” he noted.
Marib and its surroundings, including Shabwa and al-Bayda, remain the epicenter of the war.
The situation is getting worse for civilians every day, with thousands forced to flee in search of safety in recent weeks.
The encirclement of Abdiyah district in southern Marib has persisted for almost a month, leaving thousands of people in a desperate situation, he said.
He urged Houthis to stop the military escalation in Marib, noting that the UN Secretary-General himself is following developments in Abdiyah closely.
The envoy further expressed deep concern about the military developments and incidents elsewhere in Yemen, calling on all parties to de-escalate.