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The UN relaunches a peace plan for Yemen

· Talks with Houthi rebels while the nation suffers a severe water crisis ·

UN envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, arrived in the capital, Sana’a, for a new round of talks with the Houthi rebels. This is yet another attempt to find a diplomatic solution to a conflict that has been ongoing for four years.

According to the news agency Anadolu, talks between Griffiths and Houthi representatives will focus on the UN-proposed plan to stop the fighting in al-Hudaydah, Yemen’s fourth largest city. A few days ago, the UN envoy met with the Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed bin Daghr in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. The Prime Minister shared with Griffiths the official response of the internationally recognized government, to the UN plan. Khaled Al Yamani, Yemen’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, explained that the plan calls for the complete withdrawal of Houthis from al-Hudaydah and the redeployment of UN observers to the city’s port, considered to be the nation’s most important.

Meanwhile, Geert Cappelaere, Unicef’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, declared in a memo that, “Unicef deplores in the strongest terms yet another attack on vital and lifesaving water systems in Yemen. A large water facility in Sa’ada, northwest of the country, came under attack this week. This is the third such attack on the same facility”.He pointed out that more than 10,000 people, of whom 5,000 are children, have been deprived of potable water.

The likelihood of contracting water-borne diseases is on the rise in this war torn country. In March 2018, the water project Nushour was attacked twice in one week, causing damages estimated at $20,000, which Unicef repaired. The most recent damages to the water system are estimated at $300,000.

The conflict has already severely impacted the water and sanitation system in Yemen: 8.6 million children do not have regular access to safe drinking water and are at risk of water-borne diseases, such as cholera.

The UN agency stressed that these crumbling basic services are a question of life or death for Yemeni families. Access means, purely and simply, survival for these boys and girls. Attacks on civil infrastructures, such as the water system, constitute a violation of international humanitarian law.

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Sept. 21, 2018

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