UN: Houthis interfering in relief operations in Yemen

A file photo of a UNSC meeting on Yemen. (File photo: Reuters)

The United Nations on Tuesday thanked Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for funding humanitarian operations in Yemen, reiterating that there are “several obstacles” facing relief work in the Houthi-controlled areas.

In a briefing on Yemen at the UN Security Council on Tuesday, the UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths praised in his statement the Saudi support for the medical air bridge to transfer critically ill Yemenis abroad for treatment.

Griffiths called all parties involved in the Yemeni conflict to make concessions to achieve unconditional peace.

“Peace won’t be dictated from a position of military dominance. Engagement in the UN process must be unconditional. It cannot be secondary to territorial gain, particularly when there is no military solution.”

Turning to another concern, Griffiths reminded the Council of the deteriorating SAFER oil tanker located off the coast of Yemen, warning that any rupture could spill over a million barrels of oil into the Red Sea.

“This threat…must be dealt with on a purely technical basis, without politicization,” he advised.

“The United Nations is committed, ready, and prepared to send objective, technical experts to undertake an assessment and initial repair, to be immediately followed by permanent arrangements to address the threat and make that vessel safe.”

On Sunday, Griffiths said that both sides of the conflict in Yemen agreed on a detailed plan to complete the first phase of a large-scale exchange of prisoners.

The announcement of the deal came after a seven-day meeting between rival sides of the Yemeni conflict in the Jordanian capital Amman.

For his part, Mark Lowcock, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, thanked on Tuesday Saudi Arabia for funding the humanitarian operations in Yemen.

Lowcock added that the rise in hostilities, as mentioned by the UN envoy, has displaced 35,000 people since January.

“This escalation, in addition to clashes in other places, has reversed the trend towards decreasing civilian casualties that we had seen in previous months,” he said, with 160 people killed or wounded nationwide in January.

“For months, I have called for a nationwide ceasefire. This call is even more urgent today when the violence, as Martin has said, is at a very real risk of spiralling out of control,” Lowcock said.

He pointed to serious obstacles hindering relief work in the Houthi-controlled areas.

The US ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft warned that Washington could halt its support to humanitarian agencies operating in Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen, if the Iranian-backed Houthis do not stop undermining relief distribution.

Craft expressed concern over the levy imposed by the Houthis on the currency in areas under their control.

Britain’s envoy to the UN called on the Yemeni government to put forward a plan to reassure donor countries about the financial situation in Yemen.

She also expressed concern over the restrictions imposed by the Houthis on the delivery of relief aid to the areas under their control.

Russia’s ambassador to the UN also expressed his country’s concern over the escalation of fighting in Yemen, urging all Yemeni sides to open a dialogue and make concessions to advance the peace process.

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Last Update: 22:22 KSA 01:22 - GMT 22:22
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