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Kuwait raps Houthi missile attacks – ‘Yemen conditions catastrophic’


NEW YORK, Feb 28, (Agencies): Kuwait has strongly condemned the Houthis’ ballistic missiles’ attacks on Saudi Arabia and their claims of similar attacks on the UAE, as it is destroying efforts to achieve peace in the region. The statement was made by President of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for February and Kuwait’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Mansour Al- Otaibi, during the council’s session on Yemen late Tuesday.

He also affirmed Kuwait’s support for any action taken by Saudi Arabia to protect its security, adding that Saudi Arabia was attacked with 95 ballistic missiles up until Feb 5 this year. Al-Otaibi noted that the Houthis’ threat to attack ships or plant underwater mines is unacceptable and must be strongly condemned by Security Council.

Meanwhile, the ambassador spoke of the worsening humanitarian conditions in Yemen due to the ongoing war. He called for further efforts to aid Yemenis in need, adding that the State of Kuwait had pledged about $100 million worth of humanitarian aid during the donors’ conference for Yemen in Geneva in April 2017.

The Saudi-led Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen announced expansion of humanitarian aid on January 22, 2018. As part of the plan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE will provide $1 billion as humanitarian aid to Yemen, Al-Otaibi said. Kuwait strongly believes in ending the Yemeni crisis through talks and political solutions rather than conflict, he stressed. The Kuwaiti senior diplomat pointed to Kuwait’s mediation efforts in the Yemeni conflict, noting that in 2016, Kuwait City hosted the UNbrokered Yemeni talks for over 100 days.

Kuwait is eager to cooperate with the new UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths to resolve the current situation in the country, the ambassador added. Outgoing UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmad stated Tuesday that the UN has a roadmap for ending the civil conflict in Yemen, but the warring parties are not showing required commitment to implement it. “We do have a peace roadmap for Yemen. The practical suggestions to launch it and build confidence among the parties have been agreed upon,” Ahmed said in his last briefing to the UN Security Council before the end of his mandate.

“The only part missing is the commitment of parties to make concessions and give priority to the national interest. This is what makes us doubtful of their real intention to end this war.” He unveiled that a solid foundation for an agreement had been laid through the endorsement of the general framework in Biel in 2015 and the discussions that took place in Kuwait in 2016.

“Today, I would like to announce, for the first time, that we were about to reach agreement on a peace proposal, developed in consultation with the parties, but they refused to sign in the last minute.” “In the end of the consultations, it became clear that the Houthis were not prepared to make concessions on the proposed security arrangements. This has been a major stumbling block towards reaching a negotiated solution. He accused local politicians of seeking to prolong the conflict for personal gains.

“We see daily reports about civilians dying of poverty, hunger or illness but we should not forget that many politicians from all sides are profiting from this conflict, from trading of arms and exploiting public properties for personal purposes. In their speeches, these politicians will stir up strife to deepen the rift in the Yemeni society and at other times, they declare pro-peace positions, while in private circles, they look indifferent to the suffering of their people. Whoever wants peace creates solutions, not excuses,” he said.

Ahmad called on warring parties to turn the page of this appalling war in the history of Yemen. “The United Nations is facilitating the path for peace and the international community is creating a favorable environment for it.” In this regard, he wished the new Envoy Martin Griffiths, every success in his efforts. “I have no doubt will benefit from his wide-ranging experience in diplomacy. I hope that this roadmap will constitute a cornerstone to move forward and activate the peace process. He, however, stressed that the onus of ending this conflicts is on Yemenis alone.

“Only the Yemeni decision-makers are able to stop the war and the bloodshed, and I repeat only the Yemeni decision- makers are able to stop the war and the bloodshed,” he said. The United States and three European allies condemned Iran on Tuesday after the United Nations found Tehran had violated the arms embargo on Yemen by failing to block supplies of missiles and drones to Houthi rebels.

Britain, France, Germany and the United States urged Iran to “immediately cease all activities that are inconsistent or would violate” the UN resolution that established the arms embargo in 2015. The joint condemnation came a day after Russia vetoed a British-drafted resolution renewing sanctions on Yemen and citing “particular concern” about a report’s findings on Iran.

The report by a UN panel of experts in January concluded that Iran was in violation after determining that missiles fired by the Houthis at Saudi Arabia last year were made in Iran. Russia, however, questioned the findings and blocked the resolution, saying the report did not contain conclusive evidence of Iran’s violation of the arms embargo. “We condemn Iran’s non-compliance, as described by the panel, which poses serious risks to peace and stability in the region,” said the joint statement released by the US mission. All four countries are signatories to the Iran nuclear deal of 2015.

The UN humanitarian chief warned Tuesday that conditions in Yemen are “catastrophic” after three years of war, with a record 22.2 million people needing aid and protection, and the UN envoy for the country accused the Saudi-backed government and Shiite rebels of prolonging the conflict. The officials painted a dire picture of the Arab world’s most impoverished country plunging into the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and facing massive destruction as a result of what special envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed called the parties’ continuing “destructive pattern of zerosum politics.” “Decision-makers in this conflict perceive concessions as weakness and dissent as a threat,” the envoy said.

“Regrettably, they have consistently taken irresponsible and provocative actions, disregarding the daily sufferings generated by this conflict.” Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock warned the Security Council that conflict in Yemen has escalated since November, leaving more people hungry. “Famine remains a real threat,” he warned.

In a speech read by UN director of humanitarian operations John Ging, Lowcock said that 8.4 million Yemenis “are severely food insecure” and about 400,000 children under the age of 5 “are so severely malnourished they are 10 times likelier to die without treatment than their healthy peers.” Cheikh Ahmed said the two sides had been on the verge of a peace agreement during negotiations in 2016, but the parties refused to sign at the last minute.

He told the council it became clear that the Houthi rebels weren’t prepared to make concessions on security arrangements. “This has been a major stumbling block towards reaching a negotiated solution,” he said. In his last speech to the council before his contract expires after nearly three years as special envoy, Cheikh Ahmed said there is “a solid foundation for an agreement” but what’s missing is a commitment by the parties to make concessions and put national interests first.

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