Security Council urged to "intensify" action on Yemen

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Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein. UN Photo/Amanda Voisard

The UN Human Rights High Commissioner has urged the Security Council to step up diplomatic efforts aimed at bringing about a ceasefire and, ultimately, peace, in Yemen.

In a briefing to the chamber on Tuesday, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said failure to act could have consequences that extend beyond the country's borders.

Nine months of fighting between government forces and Houthi rebels has killed nearly 6,000 people in the Gulf state.

Dianne Penn reports.

The UN human rights chief said life in Yemen has become "untenable" for the majority of the population.

Some 21 million people, or 80 per cent of the population, rely on humanitarian aid and nearly half are malnourished.

Zeid was also extremely concerned by continued heavy shelling in civilian areas, the destruction hospitals and schools, and intensification in human rights violations.

He said the situation could be even more catastrophic unless action is taken.

"To that end, I urgently call on the Council to expedite and intensify diplomatic efforts to bring about a ceasefire and help create a framework for negotiating a comprehensive and sustainable peace in Yemen. Any military solution that falls outside of the context of a negotiated agreement may – in the short term – bring about an immediate strategic advantage to one side or another. Nonetheless, it will inevitably render Yemen and its neighbours less stable and secure over the longer term."

The human rights chief said he was encouraged by recent UN-backed efforts aimed at resolving the crisis.

Talks held last week in Switzerland ended without an agreement but the parties will return to the negotiating table in January.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1’27″

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