New UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg has vowed to revitalise the peace process by engaging with the parties to the conflict and regional and international players.
“By now, it should be obvious that the peace process has stalled for too long. The conflict parties have not discussed a comprehensive settlement since 2016. This has left Yemenis stuck in an indefinite state of war, with no clear way forward,” he told the Security Council in his first briefing as the top UN envoy for Yemen.
It is therefore long overdue for the parties to engage in peaceful dialogue under UN facilitation to discuss the terms of an overarching settlement, in good faith and without preconditions, Xinhua news agency quoted Grundberg as saying.
“The UN’s approach to ending the conflict must be inclusive. To define the best way forward, I intend to assess past efforts, identify what has worked and what hasn’t, and listen to as many Yemeni men and women as possible. The way forward must be guided by the aspirations of the Yemeni people,” said Grundberg, who took up office on September 5.
He pledged to spare no effort in trying to bring together actors across conflict lines, to engage Yemenis from all political perspectives and societal components and from all parts of the country, to discuss under UN auspices how they can find common ground and resolve their differences without resorting to force.
The envoy said his first consultations with Yemeni, regional and international actors will start soon.
Grundberg said he will shortly travel to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to meet with the Yemeni president and other government officials and also looked forward to meeting with the Houthi leadership and other Sanaa-based actors, as well as other political actors throughout Yemen.
He also plans to meet with regional leaders in Riyadh, Muscat, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Tehran, Cairo and elsewhere.
The epicentre of the military confrontation has shifted over time with combatants taking turns on the offensive. Since early 2020, the focus has been on the Houthis’ sustained offensive on the Marib governorate, in which thousands of young Yemenis have lost their lives. Civilians, including the many internally displaced persons who sought refuge in Marib, live in constant fear of violence and renewed displacement, he said.
In the Hodeidah governorate, the City of Hodeidah continues to experience a noticeable decline in ceasefire violations, while hostilities in the southern districts of the governorate are of particular concern.
The situation in the southern governorates, where there have been regular flare-ups of violence, is also deeply worrying. Basic services and the economy have deteriorated into a desperate state.
The implementation of the Riyadh Agreement continues to face challenges, and the government is not performing its functions from Aden.
In this context, the impact of the conflict on the diverse range of grievances and demands in the southern governorates cannot be ignored. Peace in Yemen will not be sustained in the long term if southern voices do not play a part in shaping it responsibly, he said.
The conflict in Yemen also spills across borders, threatening regional security and international waterways.
He expressed particular concern about targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure inside Saudi Arabia.
The fighting must stop, the violence has to come to an end, he said.
“In this regard, it is also vital that external actors encourage de-escalation. Their involvement should be based on supporting a Yemeni-led political settlement. A peaceful and stable Yemen is essential for the stability of the entire region.”
From unrelenting violence to fuel and electricity shortages to surging food prices, every detail of daily life in Yemen is somehow tied to difficult political questions that demand a comprehensive resolution. Yet the complexities of this conflict make a comprehensive resolution no easy task, said Grundberg.
“I am therefore under no illusions about the difficulty of the task handed to me by this (Security) Council. Enabling a resumption of a peaceful, inclusive, orderly and Yemeni-led political transition process that meets the legitimate demands and aspirations of the Yemeni people, as mandated by this council, will not be easy. There are no quick wins,” he said.