- Associated Press - Monday, November 19, 2018

UNITED NATIONS (AP) - A proposed U.N. resolution circulated Monday urges Yemen’s warring parties to relaunch negotiations to end the three-year conflict and take urgent steps to tackle the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, which has pushed the country to the brink of famine.

The Security Council resolution, obtained by The Associated Press, also calls on Yemen’s internationally recognized government and rival Houthi Shiite rebels to agree to a cease-fire around the key port of Hodeida.

Yemenis are completely reliant on commercial and humanitarian supplies of food, water, fuel, medicine and other essential supplies, and over 70 percent of those are shipped through rebel-held Hodeida. Its surrounding area has been the scene of recent attacks and airstrikes, though fighting has eased in recent days.

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The British-drafted resolution also calls on the parties “to cease all attacks on densely populated civilian areas across Yemen” - and to halt missile and drone attacks “against regional countries and maritime areas.”

Security Council diplomats said negotiations on the draft are scheduled on Tuesday.

Kuwait’s U.N. Ambassador Mansour Alotaibi, the Arab representative on the Security Council, told reporters he had “problems” with the draft resolution and hoped they were addressed before a vote.

The spotlight has fallen on what many viewed as the long-forgotten war in Yemen since the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. U.N. special envoy Martin Griffiths said he is determined to take advantage of “the international attention and energy” to move toward peace.

The draft resolution expresses “unqualified support” for efforts by Griffiths, who told the Security Council on Friday that the Houthis and the Saudi-backed government have agreed to attend talks “soon” in Sweden.

The conflict in Yemen began with the 2014 takeover of the capital of Sanaa by the Iranian-backed Houthis, which toppled the government of Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. The Saudi-led coalition allied with the government has been fighting the Houthis since 2015.

Saudi-led airstrikes have hit schools, hospitals and wedding parties and killed thousands of Yemeni civilians. The Houthis have fired long-range missiles into Saudi Arabia and targeted vessels in the Red Sea.

The draft resolution condemns the targeting of civilians and civilian buildings, “the unlawful military use of civilian infrastructure” and drone and missile attacks by the Houthis against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. It also expresses concern at reports of civilians being used as human shields.

It welcomes the coalition’s recent de-escalation in Hodeida and calls on the Houthis “to respond in kind in order to allow urgent deliveries of assistance and flows of lifesaving commercial imports.” It also welcomes “the renewed commitment from the Yemeni parties to work on a political solution” under Griffiths’ leadership.

U.N. humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock warned the council on Oct. 23 that Yemen’s economic crisis and escalating conflict had pushed the Arab world’s poorest nation closer to famine than ever before, and on Friday he again urged its members to take action now.

Lowcock said the Security Council should urge the parties to negotiate an end to the conflict and the international community to boost aid. He also called for a humanitarian cease-fire around key aid facilities, delivery of humanitarian and commercial imports to all Yemeni ports and onward to their final destinations, and funding to pay Yemeni pensioners and civil servants.

The draft resolution calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities in Hodeida governorate and to missile and drone attacks and for all bureaucratic roadblocks to the delivery of humanitarian aid to be removed within two weeks.

David Beasley, head of the U.N. World Food Program, visited Yemen last week and told the Security Council on Friday that as many as 12 million of the 28 million Yemenis “are just one step away from famine.”

To avert that, Beasley said, the international community must combine increased humanitarian funding with “an all-out effort to restore the Yemeni economy,” which has collapsed.

The draft resolution calls on Yemen’s government with support of the international community “to deliver a larger and faster injection of foreign currency into the economy” and to expedite credit for traders and payments to pensioners and civil servants within one month. It asks Griffiths to explore ways for the government and the Houthis to cooperate on channeling revenue, including from Hodeida, to the Central Bank of Yemen.

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