Yemen consultations to begin in Geneva

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More than one million people have been displaced in Yemen since an escalation of fighting in March. Photo: WFP Middle East and North Africa region (MENA).

Consultations between government-backed and opposition forces in Yemen are to begin in Geneva in an attempt to end an escalation of conflict in the Arabian peninsula country.

More than 2500 people have been killed in recent months according to the UN and 20 million people in Yemen – close to 80 per cent of the population – urgently need humanitarian assistance.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to launch the discussions on Sunday in the Swiss city, and they’ll be led by UN Special Envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed.

Daniel Johnson has more.

During the consultations there’s no question of the warring parties sitting around the same table – at least not to begin with.

But there’s still cautious optimism that government and rebel forces will speak to each other eventually.

The development comes after more than two months of heavy fighting between forces loyal to exiled Yemen president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and Houthi rebels who back former head of state Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Here’s Ahmad Fawzi, Director of Information at the UN in Geneva:

“These Geneva consultations are part of a process, they are not a beginning or an end in themselves, they are part of a process the first consultations to involve different sides of the Yemeni conflict since hostilities resumed, and therefore mark an important step as the parties we hope embark on a road towards a settlement.”

The delegations taking part are from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), as well as Riyadh and Sana’a.

There’s also the so-called G16 group of nations that includes China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations

Duration: 1’05”

Human Rights