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Russia-called UN urgent meeting on Yemen ends without action

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yemenUnited Nations: An emergency meeting on Yemen by the UN Security Council ended today with the 15 members unable to agree on an immediate statement on the growing crisis.

The ambassador from Russia, which called the meeting, wondered why his colleagues talk about the need to help but can’t take action.

Vitaly Churkin called the closed-door meeting a day after the UN chief warned that basic services in Yemen are “on the brink of collapse.” Diplomats said Russia wanted to address the extraordinary humanitarian and security situation in the Arab world’s poorest country as a Saudi-led Sunni coalition continues airstrikes against a Shiite rebel group that is supported by Iran.

Churkin said other members of the 15-member council didn’t back his proposed statement, which he read out to reporters afterward. It called for an immediate ceasefire, or at least humanitarian pauses.

The statement echoed a call a day earlier by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Churkin said he told council members he would be willing to drop the call for an immediate ceasefire. He said some council members insisted they had to consult with their capitals for further guidance.

Churkin’s proposed statement also called for a quick return to UN-led peace talks on Yemen including all the parties involved and at a venue all can agree on. It also expressed support for the UN’s new special envoy for Yemen who would guide the talks.

“If you can’t agree to a motherhood and apple pie statement, what can you agree on? I don’t understand,” Churkin said.

Other diplomats said there was strong agreement on Yemen’s desperate humanitarian situation and the need for political talks, and that discussions on a council statement continue.

Churkin also said of the United States, “Clearly, they need to feel their responsibility since they are supporting the bombing of the coalition, the responsibility of the humanitarian consequences,” he said.

The US did not immediately comment after the meeting. Ban’s office yesterday said more than 1,200 people have been killed in the conflict, which has turned into a kind of proxy war between Yemen’s powerful neighbor Saudi Arabia and Iran, a Russian ally. Many of those dead have been civilians.

Ban’s statement also warned that already challenged humanitarian operations in Yemen will end within days unless fuel imports return, noting that the violence has “severely blocked” shipments of basic supplies such as food and medial items.


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