middle east

UN Yemen envoy Griffiths tapped to become new aid chief


United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths has been tapped to become the world body’s new aid chief, several sources said on Tuesday, as the UN tries to avert several famines and help vaccinate the globe against the novel coronavirus.

Griffiths will replace Mark Lowcock as the under-secretary-general and emergency relief coordinator. Lowcock, a former senior British aid official, took up the post in 2017.

A UN spokesman declined to comment.

Griffiths will be the fifth British person in a row to hold the position. However, diplomats said he was not the first choice by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to replace Lowcock and that another candidate was in line to take the job until last-minute issues last month arose.

At the beginning of the year, Lowcock asked to leave his post to spend time with his family who had stayed in London, according to a diplomatic source.

Griffiths has been trying to mediate an end to the conflict in Yemen for the past three years. The six-year-long Yemen conflict has caused the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and US President Joe Biden has made ending it one of his top foreign policy priorities.

But the latest round of talks failed to persuade opposing forces, backed by regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran, to back down, according to three sources familiar with the negotiations, including a US official.

Iran-aligned Houthi militias recently refused to meet the 69-year-old British diplomat, raising doubts as to whether he could effectively continue his work as Yemen’s mediator.

On Friday, the US State Department blasted the Houthis for skipping the opportunity for talks with Griffiths to discuss a possible resolution to the conflict in Yemen.

Yemen, on the brink of famine, is experiencing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis at the moment, according to the UN.

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