UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called on the warring factions in Yemen to engage in peace talks. Recent clashes in the port city of Hodeida have exacerbated the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
The destruction of the port of Hodeida, a vital lifeline for millions of starving civilians in Yemen, would "create a catastrophic situation," Antonio Guterres told French radio station France Inter.
He said that the situation in Yemen was at an impasse, particularly due to the the fight over Hodeida and that "a political solution was absolutely necessary" right now.
Since November 1, when clashes erupted as the Saudi-led coalition attempts to retake the strategic port from the Houthi rebels , nearly 600 people have been killed, ending a temporary suspension of the offensive by the government and the coalition supporting it led by Saudi Arabia.
He added that there was "a consensus, between the United States, Russia, Europe and many states in the region, that it is finally time to end this conflict" but that any attempts to begin peace talks have been thwarted by the situation in Hodeida, which he described as "frozen."
He urged all parties to relaunch peace talks, which were abandoned in September.
On Sunday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a major US ally, to agree to peace talks, while the UK's foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, is in Saudi Arabia on Monday to try and press King Salman and Prince Mohammed to support efforts to end the hostilities.
Both the United States and Britain are major suppliers of arms to Saudi Arabia.
The Yemeni government, supported by Saudi Arabia, and the Houthi rebels, affiliated with Saudi arch enemy Iran, have been fighting for nearly four years. This has caused what the UN considers to be the world's worst current humanitarian crisis. The conflict has killed more than 10,000 people and has left 14 million people on the brink of starvation, the UN says.
ng/msh (AFP, Reuters)