UN Security Council calls for de-escalation of violence in Yemen

By: AFP      Published: 07:44 AM, 21 Oct, 2021
UN Security Council calls for de-escalation of violence in Yemen
A fighter loyal to Yemen's Saudi-backed government mans a position near the frontline facing Iran-backed Huthi rebels in the country's northeastern province of Marib.–AFP

The UN Security Council called Wednesday for "de-escalation" in Yemen in a unanimously adopted statement to counter "the growing risk of large-scale famine" in the country. 

The 15 council members "stressed the need for de-escalation by all," demanded an immediate nationwide ceasefire and called for an end to the escalation by Huthis in the strategic city of Marib. 

They also "condemned the recruitment and use of children, and sexual violence, in conflict," according to a statement.

"The members of the Security Council expressed grave concern for the dire humanitarian situation, including prolonged starvation and the growing risk of large-scale famine," the text said.

Their communique called on the Yemeni government to facilitate "regularly and without delay" the entry of fuel ships into Hodeida port, and for all parties to ensure "the free flow of fuel inside the country to deliver essential commodities and humanitarian aid." 

The UN body also repeated its concern over "the grave threat posed by the Safer oil tanker."

Anchored off the coast of Hodeida, the 45-year-old fuel vessel FSO Safer has been at risk of sinking or exploding for several years.

The council says Huthis are responsible for the situation, as they refuse to allow the UN to conduct any assessment of the ship. 

Huthi rebels and government forces have been fighting a devastating war since 2014, when the Iranian-linked Huthis seized the northern capital Sanaa. 

Since 2015, a Saudi-led coalition has intervened to support struggling loyalist forces against the rebels. 

The war in Yemen has plunged the poorest country on the Arabian Peninsula into the world's worst humanitarian crisis, according to the UN, pushing the population to the brink of starvation. 

Tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have been killed and millions displaced since the conflict began.

Germany arrests two ex-soldiers

Police on Wednesday arrested two former German soldiers accused of trying to form a "terrorist" paramilitary group to fight in Yemen's civil war, prosecutors said.

The two men had taken steps to "create a paramilitary unit of 100 to 150 men" composed of former police officers and soldiers, the Karlsruhe federal prosecutor's office in southwestern Germany said.

Named as Arend-Adolf G. and Achim A., both German citizens, the pair are accused of starting to plan their "terrorist organisation" in early 2021.

Arend-Adolf G., who was allegedly responsible for recruitment, had already contacted at least seven people in the hope of bringing them on board "to intervene in the civil war in Yemen", the prosecutors said.

Both suspects were "aware that the unit they were to command would inevitably have to carry out acts of killing during their mission" and also expected civilians to be killed and injured, the prosecutors said. 

They had been hoping to secure funds from Saudi Arabia for the project and were intending to pay members a monthly wage of 40,000 euros ($46,000) each.

Achim A. is accused of contacting representatives of the Saudi Arabian government and trying to arrange a meeting, but the prosecutors said the government did not respond. 

- Far-right networks -

A Saudi-led coalition has for years been fighting against so-called Huthi rebels in Yemen, who are in turn supported by Iran.

The two suspects had wanted their unit to help bring peace in Yemen by pushing for negotiations between the Huthi rebels and the Yemeni government, according to the prosecutors.

The pair were arrested by special forces on Wednesday morning in the southwestern district of Breisgau-Hochschwarzwald and in Munich. They later appeared before a judge and were remanded in custody.

The suspects' flats were searched in Munich and in the southern German district of Calw, and further properties were also searched in Baden-Wuerttemberg and Bavaria.

A spokesman for the defence ministry said it was "working very closely with the investigating authorities" on the case, but the two suspects were "not members of the Bundeswehr in the last quarter of a century". 

The German government has been worried for years about some soldiers going rogue, especially those connected to far-right groups.