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Yemeni medical teams carry body bags containing corpses of those killed in airstrikes on a prison in northern Yemen on January 25, 2022.

Yemeni medical teams carry body bags containing corpses of those killed in airstrikes on a prison in northern Yemen on January 25, 2022. (Photo: STR/AFP via Getty Images)

Amid Escalating Violence, UN Officials Call for End to Yemen War

"Allowing the war to continue is a choice—and so is ending it," the special envoy for Yemen told the U.N. Security Council.

Kenny Stancil

"There is a way out of this war."

That's what United Nations special envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg told the U.N. Security Council during a Tuesday briefing in which he shed light on the deteriorating situation in Yemen.

With civilian casualties surging and humanitarian aid drying up, Grundberg called for a "long-delayed political process" to bring an end to the devastating conflict that began in 2014.

"Allowing the war to continue is a choice, and so is ending it" said Grundberg. "We all know that ending it will not be easy, but I firmly believe that it is possible."

The special envoy's comments come amid an ongoing spike in aerial bombings by the U.S.-supported Saudi-led coalition, which made January a "record-shattering month" for civilian deaths in Yemen.

During its roughly seven-year-long bombing campaign, the Saudi-led coalition has conducted more than 24,000 air raids—injuring more than 10,200 Yemeni civilians and killing almost 9,000, according to the Yemen Data Project.

As Common Dreams reported last week, civilian casualties in Yemen have nearly doubled since October, when the U.N. Human Rights Council voted not to renew the mandate of the independent monitoring group investigating potential violations of international law.

During the same briefing on Tuesday, U.N. under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator Martin Griffiths warned that the intensification of combat is occurring as aid groups operating in Yemen are rapidly running out of money, forcing them to cut lifesaving programs.

"By the end of January, nearly two-thirds of major U.N. aid programs had already scaled back or closed altogether," said Griffiths. "In December, the World Food Program reduced food rations for eight million people. Starting next month, those eight million people may get no food at all—or just a reduced ration."

"In March, we may also have to cancel most U.N. humanitarian flights in Yemen, which would cause enormous problems for the aid operation, and for the movement of our staff," Griffiths continued.

The U.N. humanitarian chief lamented that "there is, it seems, no money. Looming disruptions to water and sanitation services—again for want of funds—could soon deprive 3.6 million people of safe drinking water, putting them—and especially children under 5—at greater risk of deadly diseases."

"The scale of the current gaps are unprecedented in Yemen," noted Griffiths. "We have never before contemplated giving millions of hungry people no food at all, or to suspend the flights that we need to get aid workers and supplies into, around, and out of the country."

"If these gaps aren't addressed," he continued, "it will simply be a death sentence for people whose coping mechanisms in some cases are completely exhausted and who rely on assistance for their survival."

Given that "people's survival cannot rely only on the ebbs and flows of humanitarian funding cycles," Griffiths acknowledged that "a more sustainable approach... is both necessary and achievable."

"As we have said before, the international community must come together to address the underlying drivers of need in Yemen, especially the collapsing economy," he added. "I want to stress that the best thing anyone could do for the people of Yemen would be to find a just, lasting end to the war."

Meanwhile, the U.S., which holds one of the five permanent seats on the U.N. Security Council, is helping to prolong the war on Yemen and worsening the massive humanitarian catastrophe it has spawned, according to experts.

U.S. Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) recently announced that if President Joe Biden doesn't change course, they plan to introduce a new war powers resolution to "end unconstitutional U.S. participation" in the conflict.

Grundberg, for his part, said that "for each year this war is allowed to continue," the task of ending it "becomes more challenging but no less necessary."

With trust low on all sides, Grundberg told the Security Council that "ending this war will require uncomfortable compromises which no warring party is currently willing to make."

With no military solution to the crisis possible, he said, "dialogue and compromise are required, if Yemenis are not to be left suffering until the parties are tired of fighting."


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