UN invites Yemeni gov’t, Houthis to peace talks

The United Nations invited Yemen’s warring parties to Geneva for peace talks on Sept. 6, a UN spokeswoman confirmed on Friday.

“I can confirm that the office of UN special envoy to Yemen [Martin Griffiths] sent an invitation to the Yemeni government and Ansarullah [Houthi movement],” UN spokeswoman Alessandra Vellucci told a Geneva news briefing.

Asked about any invitations for the Saudi-led coalition and Iran, parties of the civil war in Yemen, Vellucci said invitations were sent only to the government and the Houthis for now.

On Aug. 2, Griffiths had said he planned to invite Yemen’s warring parties to Geneva for peace talks on Sept. 6.

According to John Ging, director of the Operational Division at the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 75 percent of Yemen’s population, or roughly 22 million people, are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection.

Impoverished Yemen has remained wracked by violence since 2014, when Shia Houthi rebels overran much of the country, including the capital, Sanaa, and Al Hudaydah.

The conflict escalated in 2015 when Saudi Arabia and its Sunni-Arab allies launched a massive air campaign in Yemen aimed at rolling back Houthi gains.

The violence has devastated Yemen’s infrastructure, including its health and sanitation systems, prompting the UN to describe the situation as “one of the worst humanitarian disasters of modern times”.

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