The UN Security Council on Friday failed to back a Russian appeal for an immediate ceasefire or humanitarian pauses in war-torn Yemen, where critical fuel shortages threatened relief efforts and doctors described desperate scenes.
Russia requested an urgent meeting of the 15-member council as the Saudi-led air war on Yemen’s Houthi rebels entered a sixth week, crippling deliveries of fuel, food and medicine.
The latest strikes and clashes on the ground killed 47 people in the second city of Aden, where the Red Cross scrambled to evacuate staff and patients from a hospital when it became a front line.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned that fuel shortages could bring all relief operations to a halt “within days,” echoing alarm from the International Red Cross and other embattled aid agencies.
During a closed-door council meeting, Russia proposed a draft statement calling for an immediate ceasefire or at least humanitarian pauses, and an urgent return to political negotiations.
However, after the statement failed to win endorsement, Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said that fellow envoys were showing “amazing indecision” in the face of the worsening humanitarian crisis in Yemen.
Russia’s diplomacy has been greeted with some suspicion given Moscow’s close ties to Iran, which is supporting the Huthi rebels, who have seized the capital, Sana’a, and forced Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi into exile.
“If you cannot agree to a motherhood-and-apple-pie statement, what can you agree on? I don’t understand,” Churkin said.
Diplomats said the Russian statement appealing for action was not rejected out of hand, but that council members needed time to consider the wording.
“There was a strong degree of council agreement on the desperate humanitarian situation in Yemen and need to return to political talks, but no agreement in the room on the exact wording of the statement,” a diplomat said.
The World Food Program said it was halting food distribution because most stocks of fuel were in rebel hands, while the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) raised alarm over the dire plight of doctors and medical workers.
The WHO said as of Monday, 1,244 people had been killed in fighting in Yemen since March 19.
The organization said the collapse of access to healthcare had fanned the spread of epidemic diseases, with 44 alerts of suspected outbreaks of diseases, including measles, dengue fever and meningitis.
Last week, Riyadh announced a halt to the air war, but since then it has kept up daily strikes.
The new UN envoy for Yemen is due to travel to the region next week for talks on advancing prospects for a return to peace negotiations, diplomats said.
It is to be Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed’s first visit to capitals in the Gulf and Middle East since he was appointed as peace envoy on April 25.
The Mauritanian diplomat was appointed to replace Jamal Benomar, who resigned after losing the critical support of Gulf states.
Talks collapsed after the Shiite Huthi rebels went on the offensive, seizing Sana’a and advancing on Aden, forcing Hadi to flee into exile to Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi-led coalition launched the air war on March 26 to prevent the Houthi rebels from taking the entire territory and to restore Hadi’s authority.
UN efforts to resume peace negotiations for Yemen have run into hurdles over disagreements on the venue for the talks, with Gulf nations insisting they be held in Riyadh.
Churkin said the talks should take place in “neutral territory,” suggesting Geneva as a venue, a proposal backed by some of the other Security Council members and also Iran.
After a meeting in Riyadh, Gulf Arab foreign ministers again rejected moves to hold Yemen peace talks at a neutral venue and insisted that Riyadh be the meeting place.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative
‘SUICIDE’: Media reports said Park Won-soon went missing on Thursday after a staff member filed a sexual harassment claim against him this week Seoul mayor Park Won-soon, viewed as a potential candidate for the 2022 presidential election, was found dead of an apparent suicide hours after he was reported missing, police said, adding that he was the subject of an undisclosed investigation. In a note he is thought to have left behind on his desk, Park offered his apologies. “I thank everyone who was with me in my life. I apologize to my family for only making them suffer from pain,” according to the note that was released by his office yesterday. Park, in his letter, asked to be cremated and have his remains spread
RISKY BUSINESS: The Chinese firm has stockpiled 500,000 pieces of 5G equipment not covered by US sanctions, but fears a wider ban could be announced in the UK Huawei Technologies Co believes it can supply 5G hardware unaffected by US sanctions to the UK for the next five years, sidestepping the expected conclusion of British emergency review on Tuesday. The company has stockpiled 500,000 pieces of kit, but fears a wider ban on its equipment is to be unveiled to placate rebel British Conservative Party lawmakers, who say that the Chinese supplier represents a national security risk. The British government on Friday said that it was “very likely” that British Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden would make a statement to parliament on Tuesday