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UN council backs embattled Yemen envoy

By AFP - Jun 12,2019 - Last updated at Jun 12,2019

A Yemeni fisherman prepares his catch to sell in a market in the embattled Red Sea port city of Hodeida on Tuesday (AFP photo)

UNITED NATIONS, United States — The UN Security Council on Monday expressed full support for the UN envoy for Yemen after he came under sharp criticism from Yemen's president.

The dispute threatened to derail fragile efforts to implement a ceasefire truce agreed in December in Sweden.

In a statement, council members "underlined their full support" for envoy Martin Griffiths and "called on the parties to engage constructively and continuously" with him.

The statement followed talks in Riyadh between UN political chief Rosemary DiCarlo with the Saudi foreign minister and with President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, the Saudi-backed leader of Yemen, to try to defuse the row. 

Saudi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al Assaf and Abdel Aziz Hamad Aluwaisheg from the Gulf Cooperation Council "both expressed their support for the work of the United Nations in Yemen and for the efforts of the special envoy," said UN spokesperson Eri Kaneko.

DiCarlo, the UN undersecretary general for political affairs, also held “productive” talks with Hadi, a UN statement said, without providing details.

The UN Security Council is due to discuss Yemen on June 17.

Hadi has accused Griffiths of siding with the Houthi rebels, telling UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in a letter last month that he “can no longer accept these offenses” by the envoy.

The president has taken issue with Griffiths over the rebel handover last month of ports to a “coast guard” that the government says is in fact rebel fighters in different uniforms.

Successive UN envoys to Yemen have grappled with disagreements from both sides in their efforts to end the devastating war.

British diplomat Griffiths was appointed in February 2018, replacing Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed of Mauritania after the Houthis broke off ties with him. 

His predecessor, Jamal Benomar, quit in 2015 after a Saudi-led military coalition intervened in Yemen to push back the Iran-aligned Houthis, who continue to hold the capital, Sanaa.

The conflict, which has killed tens of thousands of people, has had a devastating toll on civilians and triggered the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, according to the United Nations.

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