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Calls For Sustained Peace Efforts In Yemen As Cholera Outbreak Worsens

13 May 2024

The suffering of civilians in Yemen, a country enduring nearly a decade of conflict, remains severe and is worsened by a growing cholera outbreak, the UN’s top humanitarian official cautioned on Monday.

Martin Griffiths, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, stressed the critical need for sustained peace efforts during a briefing to Security Council ambassadors.

The conflict in Yemen has been the key driver of humanitarian needs. It has deeply undercut the country’s economy, decimated half of its health facilities, displaced millions of people, and allowed hunger and disease to prosper under these circumstances,” he emphasized.

Compounding these challenges is a rapidly escalating cholera outbreak, with over 40,000 suspected cases and a rising death toll, particularly affecting Houthi (known also as Ansar Allah)-controlled areas, where hundreds of new infections are reported daily.

Mr. Griffiths, also head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), highlighted concerns about impending heavy rains and flooding exacerbating the crisis in the coming weeks.

Shadow of the Gaza war

Hans Grundberg, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, also briefed the Security Council, noting that in December, the Government and the Ansar Allah both agreed to a “set of commitments” including a nationwide ceasefire.

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These commitments aim to ensure humanitarian relief for Yemenis and initiate an inclusive political process to end the conflict sustainably.

However, challenges persist due to the war in Gaza and wider regional instability, and announcements by Ansar Allah to expand the scope of attacks are a “worrisome provocation in an already volatile situation.”

Protect progress in Yemen

Reflecting on the impact of regional conflicts, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Griffiths emphasized the need to shield progress in Yemen.

We cannot allow disruptions in global trade around the Red Sea to derail peace efforts in Yemen,” he stressed.

Mr. Griffiths expressed deep concern for Yemeni civilians, advocating for collective international support and an end to hostile economic measures, as well as for the warring parties to do their part to de-escalate the situation.

He urged the resumption of oil exports to stabilize the economy and strengthen vital public services.

Personal reflection

In a personal reflection, Mr. Griffiths, who is preparing to step down from his role in June due to health reasons, highlighted Yemen's significance to him.

“My first briefing to the Security Council as Emergency Relief Coordinator, nearly three years ago, was on Yemen. It seems fitting that I should speak to you on Yemen today for one of my last briefings,” he said.

After nearly 10 years of gruelling conflict, Yemen's people deserve relief,” he concluded, underscoring the importance of protecting civilians, ensuring humanitarian access, and advancing towards lasting peace.

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