UN special envoy awaits Houthis at Yemen peace talks in Geneva

The Houthi delegation failed in Geneva to arrive following a series of last-minute demands. (Reuters)
Updated 07 September 2018

UN special envoy awaits Houthis at Yemen peace talks in Geneva

  • UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths is still working on getting the Ansarullah delegation to Geneva
  • The UN wants the government and the Houthi movement to work toward a deal to end the war

GENEVA: The United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths has discussed issues including prisoners, humanitarian access and the reopening of Sanaa airport with Yemen’s Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Yamani, a UN spokeswoman said on Friday.
But Griffiths, who began consultations with the Yemen government delegation in Geneva on Thursday, still awaits representatives of the Iranian-allied Houthi movement from the capital Sanaa, UN spokeswoman Alessandra Vellucci said.
“He is still working on getting the Ansarullah delegation to Geneva,” she said.
“Since yesterday (Thursday) he has been discussing with them confidence-building measures, including the issue of prisoners, humanitarian access, the re-opening of Sanaaa airport, in addition to economic issues,” she said.

The Houthi delegation rejected an offer to be transported by an Omani plane Friday after it was searched by the Saudi-led coalition.

The Yemeni government's delegation announced Friday that it will stay in Geneva regardless of whether the Houthis arrived or not. 

Meanwhile, Washington's ambassador to Yemen said Friday that the Geneva consultations will resume within two weeks if they do not start on Saturday. 
The United Nations announced on Thursday that Griffiths was not expected to hold any talks at its Geneva offices on Friday.
Two sources in the government delegation told Reuters on Thursday they had given the international envoy additional time to noon on Friday to persuade the Houthis to come to Geneva.
A Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen’s war against the Iranian-allied Houthis in 2015 to restore President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s internationally recognized government. Subsequent peace talks flopped.
Since then the humanitarian situation has worsened sharply, putting 8.4 million people on the brink of starvation and ruining the weak economy.
The United Nations wants the government and the Houthi movement to work toward a deal to end the war, remove foreign forces from Yemen and establish a national unity government.
The Houthis’ Al-Masirah TV reported on Wednesday that the coalition had prevented their delegation from flying from Sanaa to Geneva. The Houthis have accused the United Nations of not keeping a promise to transport wounded on the flight.
Hamza Al-Kamali, Yemeni deputy minister for youth, told reporters in Geneva on Thursday the flight clearance had been given three days earlier.


Gunmen kill two women and 3 kids near Tripoli

Updated 6 min 21 sec ago

Gunmen kill two women and 3 kids near Tripoli

  • This is one of the systematic crimes carried out by militias against civilians

CAIRO: Gunmen killed two women and three children of the same family while they were driving on a highway near the capital, Tripoli, less than a week after an airstrike slammed into a house killing at least three civilians, a health official said Thursday.

The city has been the scene of fighting between rival militias since April. A UN-supported but weak government holds the capital, but the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) — which is associated with a rival government in the country’s east — is trying to seize it.

Abdel Rahman Al-Tamimi, his wife, sister and three children were traveling on Wednesday evening to the capital from their hometown of Aziziya, south of the city, when unknown militants opened fire on their car, Malek Merset, a health spokesman with the Tripoli government told The Associated Press. The family was headed to the capital, where the children, ages 3 to 6, were expected to receive vaccination shots, Merset said.

FASTFACT

Abdel Rahman Al-Tamimi, his wife, sister and three children were traveling on Wednesday evening to the capital from their hometown of Aziziya, south of the city, when unknown militants opened fire on their car.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack. However, LNA spokesman Ahmed Al-Mesmari blamed the attack on militias allied with the Tripoli-based internationally recognized government. “This is one of the systematic crimes carried out by militias against civilians,” he wrote on his official Facebook page. “In order to eradicate them and avenge the murdered, the battle shall continue.”

Earlier this week, the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) held the LNA responsible for the shelling of a civilian residence that killed at least three civilians and the wounding of two, including children. The LNA denied the accusation saying that it targeted a military camp that the Tripoli militias used as an “operations room.”

The battle for Tripoli has stalled in recent weeks, with both sides dug in and shelling one another along the city’s southern reaches. The months of combat have killed hundreds of people and displaced thousands.

The fighting threatens to plunge Libya into another bout of violence on the scale of the 2011 conflict that ousted and killed longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi.

Separately, Libya’s coast guard said that it has rescued 82 Europe-bound migrants, including 11 women and eight children off the country’s Mediterranean coast.

The rubber boat carrying migrants from Syria, Bangladesh, Sudan and many other African countries was stopped on Wednesday 64 km to the north of the western town of Zawiya, according to a statement released on Thursday by Libya’s navy.

Libya has emerged as a major transit point for migrants fleeing war and poverty to Europe. In recent years, the EU has partnered with the coast guard and other Libyan forces to try to stop the dangerous sea crossings.

Rights groups, however, have criticized those efforts, saying they’ve left migrants at the mercy of armed groups or confined in squalid detention centers rife with abuses.