The Daily Star (Lebanon)
Yemen govt says it is ready to resume peace efforts
ADEN / CAIRO: The coalitionbacked Yemeni government said Thursday it was ready to work on confidence-building measures under U.N.-led peace efforts as the United States pressed for an end to a war that has pushed Yemen to the brink of starvation.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who are leading a coalition fighting Yemen’s Iranbacked Houthi insurgents in a conflict that has lasted more than three years, have yet to publicly comment on calls by the United States and Britain for a cease-fire.
The fighting has killed more than 10,000 people, according to United Nations figures.
The alliance, which relies on Western arms and intelligence, was Wednesday still sending troops to the Houthi-held port city of Hudaida where it has massed thousands of forces in recent days, pro-coalition Yemeni military sources said.
The internationally recognized government of President Abed-Rabbou Mansour Hadi said it was ready to return to the negotiating table after U.N.-led consultations collapsed in September when the Houthi delegation failed to show up.
“The Yemeni government is ready to immediately discuss all confidence-building measures,” it said in a statement.
Those steps should include freeing of prisoners, support for the central bank, reopening of airports and U.N. monitoring of Hudaida port to prevent arms smuggling, it added.
The Houthis, who accuse the government of preventing their delegation from travelling to the last round of consultations, also said that they are also willing to re-engage.
In Hudaida city, residents already struggling to secure basic needs fear that things could get worse.
“There are continuous clashes south of the city and the entrance leading to Sanaa. We hear the sound of bullets and missiles clearly,” Mohammad Abdullah told Reuters by telephone.
“The situation is dire and we
don’t know what our fate will be,” he said. “We can’t leave the city, where would we go? It costs too much to travel and our friends who left for Aden or Sanaa are living in even worse conditions than us.”
Half the population of Yemen – some 14 million people – could soon be on the brink of famine, the United Nations says, in what it describes as the world’s most urgent humanitarian crisis.
Save the Children estimates that 100 children on average are dying every day in Yemen from preventable causes like extreme hunger and disease.
“While the warring parties discuss the terms of this peace, we urge them to immediately stop the fighting so more lives aren’t lost,” Save the Children said in a statement and called for full access for aid and commercial imports.
“It’s time to end this war, for the sake of Yemen’s children, who’ve suffered enough.”
Yemen’s government also said it would work on resuming oil production and exports from new fields “in the coming days,” without specifying the quantity expected, SABA state news agency reported.
The announcement came after the first Cabinet meeting held by the newly appointed Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed.
Yemen is a small producer with proven oil reserves of around 3 billion barrels, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. –