UN appoints Briton Martin Griffiths as new Yemen envoy

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The UN Security Council on Thursday approved the appointment of Martin Griffiths of Britain as the new envoy for Yemen, the third mediator to take on the mission over the past seven years.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday informed the council of his intention to appoint Griffiths and no council member raised objections to the decision by a deadline set for Thursday, diplomats said.

READ ALSO: British mediator Martin Griffiths ‘appointed new UN envoy to Yemen’

Griffiths, who is executive director of the Brussels-based European Institute of Peace, “brings extensive experience in conflict resolution, negotiation, mediation and humanitarian affairs,” Guterres wrote in the letter.

War-wracked Yemen is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, according to the United Nations, with 60 percent of the population -- 17 million people -- in need of food, seven million of whom are at risk of famine.


Griffiths will replace Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed of Mauritania, who last month said he would not stay on as Yemen envoy beyond the end of his contract at the end of this month.

As UN envoy since April 2015, Cheikh Ahmed failed to make progress in diplomatic efforts to end the war between the Saudi-led coalition backing Yemen’s government and Houthi rebels

His predecessor, Jamal Benomar, also quit after four years of efforts to establish a political transition fell apart, and the Saudi-led coalition began an air campaign in Yemen. Griffiths will be taking on one of the world’s most challenging peace missions, with no end to the violence within sight.


More than 9,200 people have been killed since the Saudi-led alliance joined the Yemen war, according to the World Health Organization. A severe cholera outbreak has also killed 2,000 people and infected one million, the International Committee of the Red Cross said.

READ ALSO: Oxfam: Cholera epidemic in Yemen 'worst in history'

Born in 1951, Griffiths was the founding director of the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue in Geneva, which specializes in political dialogue. He held that position from 1999 to 2010. He has also worked in the British diplomatic service and for international agencies, such as UNICEF and the non-governmental organization Save the Children.

In 1994 he was appointed director of UN humanitarian affairs in Geneva, and in 1998 became deputy to the UN emergency relief coordinator in New York.

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