UNITED NATIONS: Amid escalating crisis in Yemen, the U.N. Security Council met in an emergency session Friday afternoon but failed to agree on a Russian-drafted statement calling for pauses in fighting to allow delivery of humanitarian aid.
Russia’s U.N. ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, who called the closed-door session, wondered why his colleagues talk about the need to help but can’t take action.
The meeting took place a day after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that basic services in Yemen are “on the brink of collapse.”
But In the latest sign of increasing tensions between Russia and the West, who are already at odds over Syria and Ukraine, the Russian envoy said his three-paragraph statement on Yemen was met with a “procrastination reaction.”
“I was prepared to drop a reference to (a call for) an immediate ceasefire, just at the very least they need to have periodic humanitarian pauses to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian supplies, they couldn’t even agree to that,” Churkin said after the meeting on Yemen.
“If you cannot agree to a motherhood and apple pie statement what can you agree on,” he told reporters. “They pay lip service, they say ‘things are very bad, but what can we do about it’.”
Churkin said council members were consulting with their capitals over the statement but he was skeptical about any agreement.
“The fighting among various Yemeni groups, as well as the airstrikes by a Saudi-led coalition, has helped create a humanitarian crisis in what was already the Arab world’s poorest country.
Prospects for the U.N.-led peace talks are uncertain at the moment. The Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Saudi Arabia, insists that talks be held in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. Churkin said the Houthi rebels wouldn’t go there. He added that Russia sees no interest “on the part of those engaged in bombing” in engaging with the new U.N. envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed.
The secretary-general said on Thursday 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.