FRI 15 - 2 - 2019
Date: Jul 11, 2018
Source: The Daily Star
U.N. envoy in Yemen to broker talks
Agence France Presse
ADEN / RIYADH: The U.N. envoy for Yemen met with the country’s embattled president Tuesday in another round of talks aimed at brokering a truce between the government and rebels. President Abed Rabbou Mansour Hadi discussed “the prospect of peace” with the U.N.’s Martin Griffiths, the state-run Saba news agency reported.

The internationally-recognized Hadi government is allied with an Arab-led military coalition in a war against Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

Griffiths told state media that he and the president had discussed the possible resumption of political negotiations between Yemen’s government and rebels.

He also floated the idea of “prisoners being released and exchanged,” following press reports of secret prisons in Yemen where inmates have been subject to torture.

The Yemeni government has announced it would be investigating prisons in areas under its control.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia Tuesday said its air defenses had intercepted a ballistic missile fired from rebel-held territory in Yemen toward Al Shuqaiq on the kingdom’s southwestern coastline. The area, located in Jizan province, is home to a major water and power plant.

The Houthis said a short-range ballistic missile had been fired at a military “supply depot” on Saudi Arabia’s western coast.

The Houthis have ramped up missile attacks against Saudi Arabia in recent months.

The kingdom usually says it has intercepted the missiles and has reported one casualty.

Saudi Arabia last month tested a new siren system for Riyadh and the oil-rich Eastern Province, in a sign of the growing threat posed by the rebels’ arms.

Riyadh accuses its regional rival Tehran of supplying the Houthis with ballistic missiles, a charge Iran denies.

The government, backed by the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and their regional allies, is battling the northern-based Houthis for control of the impoverished country.

The conflict is now centered on the Red Sea city of Hudaida, home to the country’s most valuable port and controlled by the Houthis.

On June 13, Yemeni forces supported on the ground by UAE troops, launched a major offensive to retake Hudaida, the entry point for some 70 percent of imports to a country where eight million people face imminent famine.

On July 1, the UAE announced it had halted the offensive to give a chance to U.N. diplomatic efforts.

The United Nations said Tuesday that more than 800 children as young as 11 years of age were recruited to Yemen’s devastating conflict in 2017 alone.

The latest report of the U.N. secretary general on children and armed conflict verified 842 boys had been recruited by various parties in Yemen, where years of war have left thousands dead and pushed the country to the brink of famine. Seventy-six children have been documented as used in active combat.

The rest were recruited to “guard checkpoints and government buildings, for patrolling, fetching water, food and equipment to military positions,” according to a statement released by the U.N. humanitarian affairs agency (OCHA).

The U.N. also verified the killing and maiming of 1,316 children last year alone, 51 percent of them in air strikes. Yemen’s military “Security Belt” force – UAE-backed troops fighting in the southern part of the country – was blacklisted by the UN last month.

Griffiths Thursday briefed the U.N. Security Council on his latest talks in Yemen, after what he said was a “fruitful” discussion with rebel chief Abdulmalik al-Houthi, in a rare confirmation of direct talks between the two. No truce has yet been reached between the government and rebels on Hudaida.

Nearly 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen since Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened in the country’s civil conflict in 2015 – including 2,200 children.

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