Envoy calls for ceasefire in parallel with upcoming Yemen peace talks

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Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen, speaks to journalists. UN File Photo/Devra Berkowitz

Warring parties in Yemen are being urged by the UN Special Envoy for the country to adhere to a ceasefire effective 15 December, the day they are to meet in Switzerland for peace talks.

Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed made the appeal during a briefing to journalists in Geneva on Monday.

Fighting between government forces and Houthi rebels has killed upwards of two thousand people in Yemen.

The UN estimates that more than 20 million people, or 80 per cent of the population, require humanitarian protection or assistance.

Dianne Penn reports.

Mr Ahmed said he has been "strongly encouraging" the sides to work towards a peaceful settlement to the conflict.

He also condemned a bomb attack on Sunday that killed the governor of the city of Aden and six of his aides.

The terrorist group ISIL, also known as Da'esh, has claimed responsibility.

"Making peace requires a lot of courage, personal sacrifice and tenacity. The heinous killing of the governors of Aden, which I strongly condemn, is a painful illustration of the dangers Yemen is facing if we don't go quickly to the negotiation table. On behalf of the UN Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-moon, I call on the parties to adhere to a ceasefire effective 15 December in order to create an environment conducive to peace talks, save lives and give hope to the Yemeni people."

The talks will be chaired by the UN envoy and attended by eight negotiators and four advisors for each delegation.

Mr Ahmed is also pushing for more women's participation in the talks, where he said the ceasefire will be the "top priority."

Other issues will include the withdrawal of militias and armed groups from various parts of the country, weaponry, humanitarian access, the release of prisoners, and resumption of political dialogue.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1’24″

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