Martin Griffiths, the UN special envoy to Yemen, arrived in Sanaa, the Yemeni capital, to renew peace talks between the Houthi rebels and the Saudi-led coalition.
Rabat – Griffith’s previous efforts to end Yemen’s civil war fell through last September, when the Houthi rebels withdrew from talks claiming they were not guaranteed safe passage back to Yemen. On November 16, the envoy said both parties had given “firm assurances” that they are committed to attending peace talks in hope of reaching a workable framework by the end of the year.
Last week, the Saudi-led coalition ceased a five-month offensive to retake control of the Yemeni port-city of Hodeidah.r Over the weekend, however, fighting flared up again between the two sides. Yemen’s civil war is widely seen as a proxy conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran who back the Houthi rebels.
Saudi air forces launched at least ten air raids on Houthi strongholds late Monday. The airstrikes were met with artillery fire by Houthi forces. Later on Monday, the Houthi command announced that the group would stop conducting drone and missile attacks on Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and their Yemeni allies.
Hodeidah is one of the few ports leading into rebel-held territory and the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, “some 80 percent of commercial food imports and all UN-supervised humanitarian aid pass through its docks.”
As fighting renewed, the UN security council began circulating a new draft resolution. Spearheaded by the UK, the resolution calledfor a ceasefire t in Hodeida and all other critical ports of entry in Yemen, allowing much needed aid into the war-torn country.
Save the Children estimates that 70 percent of Yemen’s humanitarian aid and food goes through Hodeida. In the same report, the humanitarian group put forth a “conservative” estimate that 85,000 children under the age of five had died of disease and hunger since the outbreak of the civil war in 2015.
“Three-quarters of Yemen’s people require life-saving assistance and more than 8 million are at risk of starvation. Tens of thousands of people are believed to have been killed in the fighting.” The organization said the principal factor that lead to the famine was the Saudi-led blockade of Yemen, a blockade which was strengthened a year ago after Iranian-backed forces inside Yemen fired a missile at Riyadh.
The aftermath of the Saudi operation to murder Jamal Khashoggi has brought renewed attention to Yemen’s civil war, especially from Western nations who sell Saudi Arabia billions of dollars in arms sale annually. The US recently announced plans to stop refueling Saudi jets which frequently strike targets in Yemen.