Gulf region: Baerbock: UN must mediate ceasefire in Yemen

Gulf region: Baerbock: UN must mediate ceasefire in Yemen

In the civil war in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the Shiite Houthi rebels are now once again negotiating directly. Foreign Minister Baerbock is now warning against an agreement that does not include all sides.

Germany is pushing for a UN process in a conflict that has been going on for years: According to Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, a ceasefire in the civil war country Yemen must be brokered by the United Nations. This is a prerequisite for a “lasting, stable peace,” said the Green politician after a meeting with Yemeni Foreign Minister Ahmed bin Mubarak in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. “For this, all actors must be involved.” States in the region must also support the UN special envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg.

First, Baerbock met with the UN coordinator for Yemen, David Gressly, in the port city on the Red Sea. The humanitarian situation in the impoverished country on the Arabian Peninsula is catastrophic. According to the federal government, 67 percent of Yemen’s population is dependent on humanitarian aid. That’s about 21 million people, including about 11 million children. Baerbock spoke of “one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world.” Every night over 400,000 children went to bed hungry.

End of the Yemen war within reach?

Saudi Arabia is fighting in Yemen against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels who overran the country in 2014 and control large parts of the north. Against the background of the rapprochement between Riyadh and Tehran, the chances of an easing of the war in Yemen, where both countries support different sides, are better than they have been for years. Riyadh is looking for a way out of the costly conflict in which, according to UN estimates, at least 377,000 people lost their lives as a result of the direct and indirect consequences of the war.

According to information from the federal government, Germany was the second largest humanitarian donor to Yemen in 2022 with around 198 million euros. In February, Germany announced a further 120 million euros for 2023. A major problem for the implementation of humanitarian aid is the limited access to those in need.

Access to the needy problematic

A major problem for the implementation of humanitarian aid continues to be limited access to those in need. According to the federal government, humanitarian partners reported more than 3,300 documented access restrictions last year, with more than five million people being denied humanitarian aid. A rule enforced primarily by the Houthis, according to which Yemeni women are not allowed to travel without a male relative, poses a particular obstacle.

Impending environmental catastrophe

Baerbock also pushed for a solution with a view to the floating oil platform “Safer” off the coast of Yemen. The rotting oil storage facility with a good 1.1 million barrels of oil on board is threatened with leaks or a major fire from an explosion. The consequences for the environment and the economy would be devastating. Germany has provided twelve million euros, said Baerbock. In this case, she also warned of a “renewed humanitarian catastrophe”. The United Nations is trying to raise enough money for a rescue operation.

Talks on workers’ rights in Qatar

In the afternoon in Doha, the capital of Qatar, Baerbock was informed behind closed doors by the local head of the project office of the International Labor Organization (ILO), Max Tunon, about the situation of the workers in the desert state. During the 2022 World Cup, Qatar was heavily criticized for the situation of around 2.6 million workers.

The government in Qatar has introduced reforms that aim to reduce workers’ previous dependencies on their employers. For example, a minimum wage was introduced, as well as a legal limit on working hours and paid vacation. However, non-governmental organizations such as Amnesty International denounce the slow implementation.

This Wednesday, at the end of her three-day trip, Baerbock plans to meet Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani in Doha for political talks.

Source: Stern

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