Political Analysis

Yemen: UN-Mediated Peace Talks Continuing Amid ‘Worrying’ Breaches of the Cessation of Hostilities

Written by Fakhri Al-Arashi

5 May 2016 – In his latest update on the Yemeni peace talks currently under way in Kuwait, the UN envoy for the conflict-torn country confirmed they are continuing despite a number of breaches of the cessation of hostilities yesterday, which he described as “worrying.”

“The peace talks are continuing, we are determined to reach an agreement and this commitment will not wane over time,” the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, told reporters at a press conference in Kuwait, the host country for the talks.

“We agreed with the two delegations that the De-escalation and Coordination Committee (DCC) would investigate clashes on the ground and would provide us with detailed reports with the aim of protecting the ongoing peace talks from daily developments on the ground,” he added.

Highlighting the strong link between the security situation in Yemen and the political process, Mr. Cheikh Ahmed underscored that the occasional tension on the ground should not obstruct the peace talks.

“We hope that the positive atmosphere in the talks will also be reflected in the security situation. As I have always said, the only way to resolve the conflict in Yemen is through the conclusion of a political settlement,” he noted.

“There were a number of breaches of the cessation of hostilities yesterday and this is worrying. We are carefully following-up on the issue with the parties with the support of the international community,” he said.

In order to move the talks forward, the delegates met today in three working groups. These groups began consultations on political and security issues, in addition to issues related to prisoners and detainees.

“The parties reiterated their support to the DCC and the Local De-escalation Committees which are playing an important role in halting hostilities in their respective governorates. The UN stressed the importance of strengthening the operational role of the Local De-escalation Committees in the country and especially in Taiz. The success of those Committees in Taiz would serve as model for the country and will help ensure constant and unhindered flow of humanitarian aid,” the envoy explained.

UN reports indicate that the cessation of hostilities has increased the ability of humanitarian agencies to conduct their activities and to deliver aid effectively. In the governorate of Taiz for example, drinking water was distributed and a number of health working groups were established to follow-up on medical cases and to provide medical services.

In the governorates of Hajjah and Al-Jawf, a number of emergency child protection campaigns were launched. In addition, work has started on training volunteers and specialists to provide psychological support, and around nine million internally displaced persons have been provided with food aid.

“There is no doubt the level of humanitarian need far exceeds what has been provided, but it is important to recognize that more help is getting through. We hope that the humanitarian agencies will be able to make further progress in the coming days. We call on all parties to facilitate the operations of these agencies in all governorates,” said Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed.

Underlining that the participation of Yemeni women is a vital part of advancing the peace talks, the UN official announced that seven women leaders arrived in Kuwait last night. They are expected to meet with a range of interlocutors to urge them to reach a comprehensive political settlement.

“The women aim to deliver measured and comprehensive messages to the two delegations and the international community,” he noted. “There is no doubt that their role will remain vital and their arguments central to all of our efforts and in the upcoming reconstruction phase.”