New UN envoy: Yemen is stuck in `indefinite state of war’


The new U.N. special envoy for Yemen said Friday that the Arab world’s poorest nation is “stuck in an indefinite state of war” and resuming negotiations to end the more than six-year conflict won’t be easy.

Hans Grundberg, a Swedish diplomat who took up the post four days ago after serving as the European Union’s ambassador to Yemen since 2019, told the U.N. Security Council that “there are no quick wins” in Yemen’s civil war.

To chart the best way forward, he said, he plans to review what has worked and what hasn’t, and “listen to as many Yemeni men and women as possible.”

“The conflict parties have not discussed a comprehensive settlement since 2016,” Grundberg said. “It is therefore long overdue for the conflict parties to engage in peaceful dialogue with one another under U.N. facilitation on the terms of an overarching settlement, in good faith and without preconditions.”

A Saudi-led coalition entered the war in March 2015, backed by the United States, to try restore Hadi to power, and threw its support behind his internationally backed government. Despite a relentless air campaign and ground fighting, the war has deteriorated largely into a stalemate and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. The U.S. has since suspended its direct involvement in the conflict.

Grundberg said the U.N.’s approach to ending the conflict must include “meaningful participation of women.”

He said his first consultations with Yemenis and key regional and international parties “will soon start.”

Surveying the complex situation in Yemen, Grundberg said that since early 2020 the focus has been on the Houthi offensive in the government-held city of Marib which has cost the lives of thousands of young people and left thousands of displaced civilians living in constant fear of violence and having to move again. In the key port city of Hodeida, there has been “a noticeable decline in cease-fire violations,” but hostilities in southern districts “are of particular concern,” he said.

In southern Yemen, Grundberg said, there have been regular flare-ups of violence and basic services and the economy have deteriorated. He stressed that southern grievances and demands must “play a part” in determining the path forward.

As a result, she said, the U.N. has scaled up assistance, reaching 12.8 million people in June — 3.3 million more than in May — and famine has been prevented in the first eight months of the year.

Mudawi said a high-level side event on Yemen will take place on Sept. 22 at the U.N. General Assembly’s annual gathering of world leaders co-hosted by the European Union, Sweden and Switzerland.

Entesar Al-Qadhi, executive director of the Marib Girls Foundation for Development, said three of the 200 families that fled their homes in the embattled city this week to escape attack were her relatives.

She urged the Security Council to adopt a resolution demanding a halt to Houthi attacks on Marib, saying this should pave the way for a Yemen-wide cease-fire. She also called on council members to support an inclusive peace process “and ensure the full, equal and meaningful participation of diverse women, youth and civil society” in all stages.

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