UAE works to safeguard UN peace efforts in Yemen
LONDON - The United Arab Emirates, a leading member in the Arab coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen, called for progress towards a political solution to the conflict, now entering its fifth year.
During meetings with UN officials April 10, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash stressed the coalition’s commitment to implementing the Stockholm Agreement and its support for UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths.
“On Yemen, reaffirmed coalition’s commitment to the political process and implementation of Stockholm Agreement.” Gargash said on Twitter. “Onus now on Houthis to end their obstruction and honour commitments to withdraw from (Hodeidah) city and ports & let aid reach those in need,” he added.
The UAE drive supporting peace efforts comes when the Iran-allied Houthi rebels have not fulfilled their end of the deal reached in Sweden in December.
The Houthi militia and the Yemeni government agreed to a ceasefire in the port city of Hodeidah and to exchange prisoners. They were to withdraw their forces from the city and its ports, handing control to the United Nations. Several deadlines for the withdrawal passed without action from both sides and reports of sporadic fighting have been on the rise.
Gargash told UN officials that, while the UAE is cautiously optimistic about the Stockholm Agreement, it is concerned about its implementation and about violations of the agreement by the Houthis. He urged the international community to pressure the Houthis and their Iranian backers to end obstructing the political process.
“Since the start of the Yemen conflict, the Houthis have, time and again, pledged to accept international mediation efforts and the resulting agreements but have then failed to implement, have questioned what was agreed and have eventually demanded new concessions,” Gargash said.
Gargash spoke of Iran’s interference and its military backing of the Houthis, which has enabled the militia to further its military campaign in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions.
Gargash called on the Security Council to enforce international law by disrupting the flow of Iranian arms into Yemen and to condemn Iran’s role in fuelling the conflict.
Gargash emphasised that the immediate and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance, in close cooperation with the United Nations and other humanitarian partners, is a key priority for the coalition, even in Houthi-controlled areas.
He stressed, however, that the Houthis continue to loot humanitarian aid for sale on the black market, raise funds for their war effort, threaten civilian shipping lanes in the Red Sea and smuggle Iran-supplied weapons into the country.
Gargash said the UAE and Saudi Arabia, which is leading the Arab coalition in Yemen, would allocate $200 million in relief assistance for Yemenis for Ramadan, which starts May 5.
The aid package was announced during a news conference by UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation Reem bint Ibrahim al-Hashimi April 8 in Abu Dhabi.
“The situation in Yemen continues to be difficult and the UAE and Saudi Arabia are, through joint efforts, trying to eliminate the humanitarian suffering of Yemenis,” Hashimi said.
“The money will also be focused on malnourished children, pregnant and nursing women,” Hashimi said, adding that $40 million would be allocated to focus on those particular segments.
The UAE-Saudi relief efforts will work with the World Health Organisation, contributing $20 million to combating the spread of cholera, Hashimi said.
Since 2015, the UAE has provided $5.4 billion in assistance to Yemen, reaching out to some 17.2 million individuals, including 11.2 million children.