On October 10, 2017, the United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen briefed the Security Council on the ongoing War in Yemen. The envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, reported that intense fighting continues on all major fronts including Ta‘iz, Marib, al-Jawf, al-Baydha, Hajjah and Sa‘dah governorates, and the Saudi-Yemen border areas. Civilian casualties also continue to mount due to a disregard for international humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict. On August 25, 2017, an airstrike in San‘a killed fourteen civilians while injuring an additional sixteen. Shelling of residential areas by Houthi-Saleh forces also continues. The envoy reported civilian deaths, including eight children, in Ta‘iz from rocket fire.
Special Envoy Ahmed reiterated the desperation created by the ongoing conflict in Yemen. The economy continues to shrink as dwindling state resources are used to fund the war instead of paying salaries for civil servants. Efforts to reactivate Yemen’s Central Bank and de-politicize the economy have the potential to improve the economy and decrease the humanitarian strife. Currently, approximately 17 million in Yemen are food insecure and one third of the country’s districts are in severe danger of famine. Cholera has already killed 2,100 and infects thousands on a weekly basis. The envoy reiterated the need for a new, internationally recognized, Yemeni government that can begin rebuilding the country’s crumbling institutions and infrastructure.
Special Envoy Ahmed described Yemeni civilians as the main victims of the ongoing war. He declared that all parties must cease hostilities and negotiate a political settlement to end hunger and disease. The most vital steps for improving the humanitarian situation require “access of humanitarian and commercial goods to Al-Hodeidah and distribution to the rest of the country, opening Sana’a airport and ensuring more consistent salary payments.” The envoy is currently engaging in preliminary talks with both parties to the conflict to improve the humanitarian situation and rebuild trust between both sides for a more comprehensive peace agreement in the future.
Finally, Special Envoy Ahmed reiterated that the bloodshed in Yemen must end. The parties to the conflict should negotiate toward peace and the United Nations should marshal its available resources toward pressuring the belligerents to resolve the conflict through diplomacy.