Houthis failed to show up for UN peace talks in Geneva
By Murad Erifi
UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths said on Saturday that he will head to Oman and Sanaa to hold talks with the Houthi rebel group as part of efforts to hold peace talks for resolving the 4-year conflict in the Arab country.
Speaking in a press conference held in the UN headquarters in Geneva, Griffiths said it was premature to talk about holding a fresh round of peace talks between the Yemeni government and Houthi rebels.
UN-sponsored peace talks were scheduled to be held in Geneva on Thursday, but Houthi negotiators failed to show up, citing that they did not have guarantees for safe return.
“We just did not make it. It’s not the first time that we have difficulties in a Yemeni context. Criticizing one or the other doesn’t help Yemen. Things happen,” Griffiths said.
He noted that he received assurances from all parties on the cessation of hostilities, especially in the western Al-Hudaydah province.
The UN envoy described his consultations with Yemeni government delegation in Geneva as “fruitful”.
He added that the talks tackled the release of prisoners, the reopening of Sanaa airport and economic issues as well as the humanitarian situation especially in the central Taiz province.
Impoverished Yemen has remained wracked by conflict since 2014, when Shia Houthi rebels overran much of the country, including the capital of Sanaa.
The conflict escalated the following year when Saudi Arabia and its Sunni-Arab allies launched a wide-ranging air campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi gains in Yemen.
The violence has devastated the country’s infrastructure, prompting the UN to describe the situation as “one of the worst humanitarian disasters of modern times.”