Note to Correspondents Near verbatim transcript of the press conference of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, Mr. Martin Griffiths

Geneva, 5 September 2018

Special Envoy: Thank you very much for coming, I am sorry I am slightly late, it’s beena busy day. I’ll make first a short statement and then, as Alessandra said, I am happy to answer some questions.

Since my appointment, it has been a race against time, to face the complexity and urgency of the situation, which affects, as you know, millions, millions of Yemenis. I have been listening to Yemenis and leaders of opinion for the last seven months. I have had thorough discussions with diplomats, civil society, women’s groups, members of the international community and political and social leaders from every part of Yemen’s society. And my abiding impressions from those detailed discussions is this: we have all agreed that time has come to begin a new process, to relaunch the process which will lead to a resolution of this conflict, which has so tragically marked the lives of so many Yemenis, and continues to do so.

And it is for that reason that we are inviting the two main parties of Yemen to the consultations here in Geneva. I’ve invited the Government of Yemen and also Ansarullahto the consultations; delegations from both sides have been formed. Arrangements for all delegations, from both sides, for both delegations to be present, are being finalized, and we are working hard to make sure this happens and we are able to begin theconsultations. I have also invited – and they are here, they have been here for more than a day – a technical advisory group of Yemeni women, chosen on the basis of their professional merits and technical expertise. This is an unusual arrangement because this will be a group of women who have a larger diaspora and a larger constituency with which they will be in constant contact. They will be helping me throughout the process of this first round of consultations and those that follow.

As you know, it has been two years, two years too long, since the parties last met. They met in Kuwait thanks to the hospitality and the leadership of the Emir of Kuwait. I had a pleasure of meeting him the other day, and it has been a process in Yemen, they started discussions in Geneva, they went to Biel, they went to Kuwait. Two years have passed since they met. This is an opportunity this week, for that page to be turned and that corner to be turned.

We are talking about consultations – that word is carefully chosen – this is not a formal negotiation. We are still in the process of trying to understand how the leadership and others in the two parties want to engage with each other, on what issues, in what sequence, in what place. I am also being very actively involved in seeking advice and input from Yemenis who are not part of the two parties. The women’s group I mentioned but we are also very keen to receive the views and issues from the South. I had an opportunity to meet a group of independent Yemeni figures in August in the United Kingdom, and this will go on. There will be a process of continuing consultations. The Security Council resolution requires – apart from the end of the war, the disarmament, and withdrawal of forces – an inclusive political settlement, and that is what we intend to produce and I hope that will start here in Geneva.

The consultations will focus on two main aspects: to reactivate the peace process – as I say in suspension these two years passed, and to lay the groundwork then on the basis of discussions we’ll have this week for formal negotiations which will come later. And the second aspect is confidence building measures, and if I may, I’d like to spend a moment on the issue of confidence building measures. As you know, in any conflict, the confidence between the parties is usually at an all-time low at the time when they start to engage and talk to each other. Building confidence between parties so that they can address issues together, resolve issues through compromise, concession andprinciple, requires trust in each other. Confidence building measures are designed partly to help build this trust through agreements on them, partly to actual deliver some benefits for the people of Yemen, and partly to send a signal to the internationalcommunity and the people of Yemen that something is happening.

The people of Yemen, like in any other conflict, are desperately in need of a signal of hope. We’d like to think that the work we will do together in these next days will begin to send a flickering signal of hope to them. I’ll give you an example – it may not be the one we discussed with the parties because we still have to agree with them what these measures will be – but one example is the arrangements for the vaccination of children. There was a successful vaccination programme in Hodeida in fact in recent weeks, agreeing a pause between the parties so that the agencies could go in and perform their necessary work. This requires the cooperation of the parties, this requires the professionalism of the agencies, and this delivers ideally some benefits, some tangible benefits to the people of Yemen. It’s an example, and we will be looking at others as we have the consultations this week.

I’ll end here because I am sure that you have lots of questions, but I would like to say that I am very grateful to the people in the Palais, my colleagues who put this week together, and to the Swiss Government who are hosting us, helping us financially, helping us with security. This is a great city and am very, very proud to be back here to get the benefits of the Swiss hospitality, the Swiss security and the Palais’ professionalism.

Thank you very much.

Security Council Press Statement on UN Consultations with Yemeni parties

5 September 2018

The members of the Security Council expressed their full support for the UN-led political process in Yemen and the efforts of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General to bring about a political settlement.

The members of the Security Council reiterated that there can only be a political solution to the conflict in Yemen. They reiterated their call for full implementationof Security Council resolutions and statements, including resolution 2216 (2015).

In this regard, the members of the Security Council welcomed the UN-led consultations with representatives from the Yemeni parties scheduled for 6 September 2018 in Geneva. These initial consultations will be a necessary and important step towards the comprehensive and inclusive security and political agreements that will be required to resolve the conflict, improve the humanitarian situation, and bring peace, prosperity and security to all Yemenis.

On the eve of the Geneva consultations, the members of the Security Council urged the Yemeni parties to seize this opportunity to de-escalate tensions and to participate fully, constructively and in good faith in order to build confidence between them and take a first step towards ending a conflict that has brought severe pain and humanitarian suffering to the Yemeni people. They called on the international community, includingregional neighbours, to support actively these consultations.

The members of the Security Council asked the Special Envoy to keep them closely informed of progress, including by briefing the Security Council on conclusion of the Geneva consultations, so that they may consider further action as necessary in support of a political settlement.

The members of the Security Council reaffirmed their strong commitment to the unity, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Yemen.

UN Special Envoy For Yemen Affirms Commitment To Southern Participation In The Political Process

Amman, 4 September 2018 

Since I assumed my role as Special Envoy in March this year, I have consistently affirmed that there will be no peace in Yemen if we do not listen to a broad cross-spectrum of Yemeni voices, including southern groups, and make sure that they are included in the efforts to reach a sustainable political settlement.

In the past few months, I have consulted with numerous southern groups to reach a consensus on their meaningful participation in the political process. I have been encouraged by their openness to dialogue and to a peaceful resolution for their concerns.

I remain committed to reaching a consensus with them on their participation in the political process, and look forward to continuing our discussions in the coming weeks.

I urge all Yemeni stakeholders to work together to create a conducive environment for negotiations to end the war and for the stabilization of the economy and delivery of basic services to the Yemeni people.

Truck carrying WFP food hit in Yemen’s Hodeidah Governatorate

31 August 2018

The truck, clearly marked with a WFP banner, was en route to Al Tuhayta, carrying around 30 tons of food assistance, enough to cover the needs of nearly 2,000 people for one month. It was hit by an unidentified armed group just 2 km from its final destination

The truck driver suffered serious injuries and was taken to Al Khawkha Hospital, but his condition is reported to have stabilized. The full quantity of food the truck was carrying remains intact and has been loaded onto another truck and delivered to its intended destination.

WFP appeals to all parties to protect civilians, respect humanitarian principles and allow for the safe delivery of food to Yemeni families in need, no matter where they are, and particularly in active conflict zones.

Fierce clashes in the districts of Al Tuhayata and Al Duraihimi have prevented food assistance from reaching people trapped in the area since June who WFP believes are in critical need. In recent days, however, WFP, has succeeded in dispatching food for 33,000 people, or about half of Al Tuhayta’s population.

Yemen is the world’s largest hunger crisis with two-thirds of the population, or 18 million people, not knowing where their next meal is coming from. Of them, some 8.4 million are precariously close to famine. Currently WFP is in the process of scaling up its assistance to reach 8 million people a month.

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The United Nations World Food Programme – saving lives in emergencies and changing lives for millions through sustainable development. WFP works in more than 80 countries around the world, feeding people caught in conflict and disasters, and laying the foundations for a better future.

Follow us on Twitter @WFP_MENA  or @WFP_Media

For more information please contact (email address:
Abeer Etefa, WFP/Cairo, WFP/Cairo, Mob. +2010 6663 4352
Reem Nada, WFP/Cairo, WFP/Cairo, Mob. +2010 6663 4522
Jane Howard, WFP/Rome, Mob. +39 346 7600521
Francis Mwanza, WFP/London, Tel.  +44 (0)20 3857 7411, Mob. +44 (0)7968 008474
Challiss McDonough, WFP/Washington, Tel. +1-202-653-1149, Mob. +1-202-774-4026
Steve Taravella, WFP/New York, Tel. +1-646-556-6909, Mob.  +1-202-770-5993

HODEIDAH – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is gravely concerned about an incident on 29 August involving a truck under contract to WFP that came under shelling while delivering life-saving food assistance in the war-torn district of Al Tuhayta in Yemen’s southern Hodeidah governorate.

Yemen: United Nations Experts point to possible war crimes by parties to the conflict

Geneva (28 August 2018) 

Information documented by the Group of Regional and International Eminent Experts on Yemen strongly suggests that parties to the armed conflict have perpetrated, and continue to perpetrate, violations and crimes under international law.

The findings are detailed in a 41-page report published on Tuesday by the Group Experts, which was mandated by the United Nations Human Rights Council to carry out a comprehensive examination of the human rights situation in the country.

The Group of Experts’ report, which covers the period from September 2014 to June 2018, analyses the main patterns of violations and abuses of international human rights law, international humanitarian law and international criminal law committed by parties to the conflict. The report also identifies significant areas where violations and abuses may have been committed but further investigation is required.

Among their conclusions, the experts say individuals in the Government of Yemen and the coalition, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and in the de facto authorities have committed acts that may, subject to determination by an independent and competent court, amount to international crimes.

The report notes that coalition air strikes have caused most direct civilian casualties. The airstrikes have hit residential areas, markets, funerals, weddings, detention facilities, civilian boats and even medical facilities. Based on the incidents they examined, the Group of Experts have reasonable grounds to believe that individuals in the Government of Yemen and the coalition may have conducted attacks in violation of the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution that may amount to war crimes.

“There is little evidence of any attempt by parties to the conflict to minimize civilian casualties. I call on them to prioritise human dignity in this forgotten conflict,” said Kamel Jendoubi, chairperson of the Group of International and Regional Eminent Experts on Yemen.

According to United Nations Human Rights Office, since March 2015 up to 23 August 2018, 6,660 civilians were killed and 10,563 injured; however, the real figures are likely to be significantly higher.

The coalition has imposed severe naval and air restrictions in Yemen, to varying degrees, since March 2015. There are reasonable grounds to believe that these restrictions imposed by the coalition constitute a violation of the proportionality rule of international humanitarian law. Moreover, the effective closure of Sana’a airport is a violation of international humanitarian law protection for the sick and wounded. Such acts, together with the requisite intent, may amount to international crimes.

The Group of Experts also found that many parties fighting in Ta’izz have been responsible for civilian casualties. The alleged use by the Houthi-Saleh forces of weapons with wide area effect in a situation of urban warfare, is particularly concerning as such use in an urban setting is indiscriminate. However, the breakdown of responsibility for civilian casualties in Ta’izz requires further investigation, the report notes.

“I urge all parties to take the necessary measures to remove disproportionate restrictions on the safe and expeditious entry into Yemen of humanitarian supplies and other goods indispensable to the civilian population, and the movement of persons including through Sana’a International Airport in compliance with international humanitarian law,” said Mr Jendoubi.

Investigations by the Group of Experts confirm widespread arbitrary detention throughout the country, and ill-treatment and torture in some facilities. In most cases, detainees were not informed of the reasons for their arrest, were not charged, were denied access to lawyers or a judge and were held incommunicado for prolonged or indefinite periods. Some remain missing.

The Experts also have reasonable grounds to believe that, since September 2014, parties to the conflict in Yemen have severely restricted the right to freedom of expression. Human rights defenders and journalists have faced relentless harassment, threats and smear campaigns by the Government of Yemen, coalition forces, including those of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and by the de facto authorities in blatant disregard of human rights law. The de facto authorities have also targeted Baha’is.

Victims and witnesses described to the Group of Experts persistent and pervasive aggressive behaviour, including sexual violence perpetrated by the Security Belt Forces and United Arab Emirates personnel. Examples include rape, of men and women, and sexual violence against displaced persons, migrants and other vulnerable groups.

The Group of Experts received substantial information indicating that the Government of Yemen, the coalition-backed forces and the Houthi-Saleh forces have all conscripted or enlisted children into armed forces or groups and used them to participate actively in hostilities. In most cases, the children were between 11 and 17 years old, but there have been consistent reports of the recruitment or use of children as young as 8 years old.

“The primary legal responsibility for addressing these violations and crimes lies with the Government of Yemen, which bears the duty to protect persons under its jurisdiction. I call  upon the Government of Yemen to investigate and prosecute violations that amount to crimes by their nationals and armed forces,” said Jendoubi.

The Group of Experts has identified, where possible, individuals who may be responsible for international crimes, and the confidential list of individuals has been submitted to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. More information is needed on some incidents documented by the Group of Experts to establish responsibility.

Their report urges the Human Rights council to ensure that the situation of human rights in Yemen remains on the Council’s agenda by renewing the mandate of the Group of Experts.


About the Group of International and Regional Eminent Experts on Yemen

In its resolution 36/31, the Human Rights Council requested the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to establish a group of eminent international and regional experts on Yemen to monitor and report on the situation of human rights. The  Group of Experts was mandated to carry out a comprehensive examination of all alleged violations and abuses of international human rights and other appropriate and applicable fields of international law committed by all parties to the conflict since September 2014, including the possible gender dimensions of such violations, and to establish the facts and circumstances surrounding the alleged violations and abuses and, where possible, to identify those responsible.

On 4 December 2017, the High Commissioner established the Group of Independent Eminent International and Regional Experts, appointing Mr. Kamel Jendoubi (Tunisia) as Chairperson, and Mr. Charles Garraway (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), and Ms. Melissa Parke (Australia) as experts.

As part of their investigations, the Group of Experts visited Aden, Sana’a, Sa’dah and Hudaydah but due to security constraints, they were unable to visit all the affected governorates, notably Tai’zz.

For the full report please go to:

In English:
In Arabic:

For media inquiries and interview requests in Arabic, French and English, please contact:
Mr. Yasser Akkaoui,

Mobile: 0041-794445515 or 00961- 71071478   (whatsapp and facetime calls accepted).


Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on Yemen

New York, 9 August 2018

The Secretary-General condemns the air strike today by the Coalition forces in Sa’ada, which hit a busy market area in Majz District and impacted a bus carrying children from a summer camp. Local health authorities have confirmed that scores of people were killed and injured, the majority of them children between 10 and 13 years old. He expresses his deepest condolences to the families of the victims.


The Secretary-General calls on all parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law, in particular the fundamental rules of distinction, proportionality and precautions in attack. The Secretary-General emphasizes that all parties must take constant care to spare civilians and civilian objects in the conduct of military operations. He calls for an independent and prompt investigation into this incident.


The Secretary-General urgently renews his call for a negotiated political settlement through inclusive intra-Yemeni dialogue as the only way to end the conflict. He urges all parties to de-escalate and to engage constructively in the political process, including consultations scheduled in Geneva in September.

Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General


Press briefing notes on Yemen civilian casualties

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Liz Throssell 

Location: Geneva
Date: 10 August 2018   

We deplore Thursday’s attack in Yemen, when a coalition air strike hit Dahyan market in Saada, reportedly killing 40 people and injuring another 60, with children on a bus among the casualties.

According to initial information our Office has gathered, at least 21 boys, most of them aged under 15, were among those killed and 35 other boys were injured.

These latest deaths come amid a recent spike in civilian casualties over the last week that tragically demonstrates how the conflict continues to blight the lives of Yemenis.

Concerning last week’s attacks in the port city of Hudaydah, our Office in Yemen has documented that at least 41 civilians, including six children and four women, were killed and 111 others injured, among them 19 children and three women.

At least three attacks hit the city on 2 August, which is controlled by the Houthis, with mortars landing in different locations in Al Hawak district. These include Hudaydah fishing port where mortars stuck the dock and hangar, at the time full of fishermen and street vendors.

Shortly afterwards, three mortars fired in quick succession hit Al-Thawra Hospital and its surroundings, also causing many civilian casualties. The first landed in the street in front of the hospital, which was full of traffic, street vendors and pedestrians. The second landed on a nearby road and the third hit and destroyed the hospital archive.

We once again call on all parties to the conflict to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law, including their obligation to respect the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution. They should take all feasible precautions to avoid, and in any event to minimise, the impact of violence on civilians. We would also recall that any attack which directly targets civilians not directly taking part in hostilities or civilian objects amounts to a war crime.

We also remind the parties to the conflict that hospitals must be respected and protected in all circumstances. In addition to their immediate impact, attacks affecting hospitals and other medical facilities have a long-term impact on availability and accessibility of health services.

The ongoing conflict and loss of life in Yemen underscores the importance of the work of the Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen and the need for a continued international investigation into all allegations of violations of international humanitarian law. We urge the parties to the conflict to provide full cooperation with any such investigation to ensure perpetrators are identified, brought to justice and held accountable no matter where, when, or by whom such violations or abuses were committed. Those found to be responsible must also uphold the right of victims to remedy and reparations.

Between 26 March 2015 and 9 August 2018, our office has documented a total of 17,062 civilian casualties – 6,592 dead and 10,470 injured. The majority of these casualties – 10,471 – were as a result of airstrikes carried out by the Saudi-led Coalition.

In another development, the de-facto authorities in Sana’a in June refused to renew the visa of the head of the UN Human Rights Office, and since then he has been unable to re-enter the country. They provided no reason for their decision and our requests for them to reconsider have, to date, gone unanswered. This has heightened our concerns for the safety of our staff and field monitors in Sana’a and other governorates across Yemen, and we urge the Houthis to reverse their decision.




Amman 09 August 2018

I am deeply shocked by the appalling tragedy that claimed so many innocent lives today in Saada including children under the age of 15.

My heart goes out to the parents of those who were killed.

This should urge us all to exert more efforts to end the conflict through an inclusive intra-Yemeni dialogue.

I so hope that all parties will engage constructively in the political process, including consultations scheduled in Geneva in September.

UNHCR aids return of over 2,000 Somali refugees from Yemen

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler  to whom quoted text may be attributed  at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.


02 August 2018

Madam President, Members of this Council,

We meet at an important time. It has been two years – two years – too long since the Yemeni people had the chance for a negotiated end to this war.

Today, therefore, as we meet we have the chance to weigh the opportunities for peace. And I hope to begin the difficult and uncertain journey away from war.

Earlier this week, Madam President, I had the privilege to meet with a man who has lived the mission of peace and of reconciliation. I am referring to His Highness the Emir of Kuwait. I cannot easily remember someone who has so successfully confronted the challenge of war and then of peace, which succeeded, and he has so clearly shown us how to move from one to the other and he speaks so movingly of the process in which his country was rescued including by coalition and then formed a constructive relationship with Iraq

Madam President,

Recently and despite all our efforts the pace of war has increased. We meet at a time when the focus of the war is the battle for Hodeida. And what military people tell me about Hodeida is that it has become the centre of gravity of the war. The Red Sea now is also a theater of war.

We have tried to find a way to avoid a battle for the city and the port of Hodeida. We are still trying. But even though the requirements for such a deal, for such arrangement are not yet met it is to be noted that our efforts with your unified support have managed to narrow the gap between the two sides in a way that nobody expected.

What is clear to me now, Madam President, is that this issue – the resolution of the specific crisis in Hodeidah – has a better chance of being resolved within the context of a comprehensive political settlement.

What does this mean for us today?

It means that it is time long past for us, together, to call for an early resumption of the political process, two years since the last round in Kuwait. My principal message and request to this Council today is that we urge the parties to resolve this conflict through negotiation rather than through military means. A sentiment that members of this Council have consistently expressed.

After having consulted with the parties, I plan therefore to invite them to Geneva on September 6th for a first round of consultations. These consultations will provide the opportunity for the parties, among other things, to discuss the framework for negotiations, to agree on relevant confidence-building measures and specific plans for moving the process forward. I ask for the Council’s support in this.

In this connection, our engagements with women’s group as well as the southern stakeholders are crucial for the success of future consultations. and as it is set out in Security Council Resolution 2216, I would aim for an as inclusive process as possible.

I did not come lightly to this decision. I have based this on the advice given to me in the months since assuming my responsibilities by Yemenis from all quarters. I have engaged with the parties of course primarily but also with civil society. I am especially grateful for my meetings with Yemeni women as I continue to consult with them on elements of the peace process. Their voices unsurprisingly and consistently remind us that Yemeni families bear the brunt of this conflict, and want it done with.

I know, from this engagement, that a political solution to this war, in line with the relevant resolutions of this Council, the GCC initiative and the National Dialogue Outcome, is available, as I have said before to this council. Believe me, Madam President, we know what can work. We have heard it from all sides, we have talked to all of them. We have studied the experience of past efforts to resolve this conflict, and one hundred days in Kuwait as the Emir was reminding me the other day is an enormously valuable guide for us.

Madam President,

An end to this war cannot come too soon for the people of Yemen. As our humanitarian colleagues are quick to remind us, and am sure John will do so, if we don’t succeed together to put an end to it, there will be millions more Yemenis depending on the assistance of our humanitarian agencies. I am very conscious as we all are that each day costs lives which we might have saved, that people could have been alive, who are not today, had we acted earlier.

Let me speak for a moment about what is happening in Yemen.

On Hodeidah, as already mentioned, we have made progress particularly as regards to a United Nations role in the port, which was agreed with me by the leadership of Ansar Allah some weeks ago. But it does not mean that the gap is closed, the gap is not closed. We will continue our efforts to find a peaceful solution there. This progress is due to the serious cooperation I have received from all sides and this Council’s active support. I continue to enjoy close cooperation and support from the Government of Yemen and their leadership, always an important engaging primary partner as well as the Coalition leadership. I also had a series of constructive and positive meetings with the senior leadership of Ansar Allah. These relationships are absolutely key to any potential success we may expect in this endeavor of a political settlement. The nurturing of relationships is a primary task for somebody in my position

Let us not throw away what we have achieved on Hodeida therefore. I am determined to build on it in our consultations. But let us not allow, – as I have been reminded today- let us not allow progress or the absence of it on Hodeida deter us from our primary focus, which is on the search for a political solution to this conflict.

I am concerned that Hodeidah could be a flashpoint. I take seriously any offer of de-escalation, regardless of its magnitude, including the unilateral offer from Ansar Allah to stop all attacks on shipping. Many of us would not have wanted these attacks to have happened at all. My concern is to avoid any action with dire humanitarian consequences and nor those, which may undermine the resumption of the political process in September. I call on the parties, with the support of this Council, to create a conducive environment, and I use these words carefully, conducive environment to allow for this to happen.

On other matters, I am greatly encouraged by the common desire of the parties to have the many many thousands of prisoners of war released. My office has been hard at work on this. And this was an issue that President Hadi, on each occasion I had met him has particularly urged us to take the lead on and I think this is a tribute to his humanity. And I know we all want to see this moving forward as fast as we can.

Madam President,

Let me conclude by summing up my requests to you and your members.

Firstly, support for my effort to begin consultations in September in Geneva.

Secondly, support for de-escalation in Hodeida.  And to keep the Red Sea out of the conflict.

Thirdly, support for those measures I mentioned one, release of prisoners, there are many others, that bring hope back to the people of Yemen. It is the people of Yemen who will ensure that we have a good chance to make those political negotiations work. Without their involvement, interest, advocacy and support we will not make it. They need encouragement to believe that this can happen

Fourthly, please join me as I know you will, in recognizing the extraordinary courage of international humanitarian organisations which I have had the privilege in my frequent visits to Yemen of witnessing first hand their courage, their diligence, their reliability, their independence and impartiality. It is an exceptional privilege to all of us to be colleagues.

Finally, through you Madame I would like to thank this Council for the extraordinary level of support that you have provided to my efforts. It makes an enormous difference to have a united and eloquent Council asserting the principles of the United Nations.  Your continued unity is by any standards the key to the resolution of this conflict.

Thank you, Madam President.