United Nations (US) (AFP) – United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday called for an end to “violence” in Yemen to prevent the country from falling into a “precipice”.
“Violence must first end everywhere and immediately around critical infrastructure and areas with a large civilian population,” Guterres told journalists at the UN.
“Yemen is today on the precipice,” he added.
The war in Yemen pits pro-government forces against Houthi rebels, backed by Iran, who in 2014 and 2015 seized vast areas of the country, including the capital Sanaa.
In March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition intervened militarily in Yemen in support of pro-government forces.
Saudi Arabia has been repeatedly accused of blunders that have claimed the lives of hundreds of civilians.
Up to 14 million people – half of the Yemeni population – could be at risk of famine in the coming months, compared to eight million currently, warned Guterres.
The United States, Saudi Arabia’s allies, demanded on Tuesday that coalition air strikes be stopped “in all inhabited areas of Yemen”, a way to recognize civilian casualties caused by these bombings.
“There is now an opportunity for peace in Yemen,” said Guterres, calling for “seize” this opportunity.
The United Nations has called on the belligerents to sit at the negotiating table within a month, after unsuccessfully trying in September to hold peace talks in Geneva. Peace talks in Kuwait had already failed in 2016.