UN chief seeks peace talks on Yemen, aid lifeline

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General Assembly Seventieth session Informal Dialogues with Candidates for the Position of Secretary-General: Mr. Antonio Guterres Panel L to R: Mr. Antonio Guterres, former United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Mr. Mogens Lykketoft, President of the seventieth session of the General Assembly. Ms. Catherine Pollard, Under Secretary-General for General Assembly and Conference Management

GENEVA: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed on Tuesday for the warring sides in Yemen to reach a political settlement to end a conflict in its fourth year that has left 22 million people in urgent need of aid.

“I urge all parties to engage with my new Special Envoy, Martin Griffiths, without delay,” he told a UN conference in Geneva, where the global body is seeking pledges toward a $3 billion humanitarian plan for Yemen this year.

Guterres called for Yemen’s ports to be kept open to humanitarian and commercial cargo, especially food, medicines and fuel. “Sana’a airport is also a lifeline that must be kept open.”

The conflict in Yemen has killed approximately 10,000 people has been referred to by the UN as “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.”

Yemen’s Houti rebels and Saudi Arabia were reported to have conducted secret talks last month to end the three year war that has caused a serious humanitarian crisis in the Arab world’s poorest country.