UN Security Council debates new violence in Yemen: diplomats



UN special envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths arrives at Sanaa international airport on February 11th, 2019. [Mohammed Huwais/AFP]

The UN Security Council convened Tuesday (January 28th) to discuss the crisis in Yemen, amid growing concern over the deteriorating situation and calls for the parties to re-engage in the political process, diplomats said.

The meeting was held behind closed doors, at Britain's request.

Special envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths, briefing the council via videoconference, "reiterated the importance of stopping the ongoing military escalation before it is too late", UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said later.

"He warned that recent developments jeopardize the progress the parties had made on de-escalation and confidence building," the spokesman added.

The UN welcomed the Iran-backed Houthis' (Ansarallah) release earlier in the day in Sanaa of 64 children captured during military operations.

One diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the council would be issuing a statement urging the belligerents to return to the table and expressing its concern over the situation facing civilians.

The UN has called it "the world's worst humanitarian crisis".

Call for restraint

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo earlier called on all parties to exercise restraint.

"The US government is alarmed by renewed violence in Yemen," he said in a statement. "Renewed fighting is unacceptable and threatens to undermine this hard-earned progress."

"We call on all parties to put the needs of the Yemeni people first and immediately return to restraint. The Houthis must cease attacks on Saudi territory."

Clashes between the Houthis and Yemeni forces resumed January 19th after months of relative calm, following a Houthi missile attack on a mosque at a military camp in Marib province that killed 116 people.

On Saturday, the Houthis seized control of a strategic highway east of Sanaa, pursuing their offensive to the north and east of the city, military sources said.

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