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Transcript of a Statement by the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed - Geneva, Switzerland, 16 June 2015 (8.30 p.m.)

16 June 2015

After overcoming great challenges, having now both delegations here in Geneva is a great achievement and we should not underestimate the significance of this event. It is the important start towards the return to a political process.

Let us be realistic: it will be a difficult path but the important issue is that we start addressing the crisis in all its dimensions, determination and willingness and that we start doing this now, here in Geneva.

The Secretary-General met with the Yemeni delegation that came from Riyadh representing the government. Unfortunately the Secretary-General had to leave before the delegation that travelled from Sana’a, and which arrived only this morning.

After a long journey, they arrived this morning and I just met with them now. Of the 22 people who had come from Sana’a, we have explained to them that we believe that it is important to determine a group that will be leading the discussions, and this group can only be of 10 during the consultations of the UN: seven delegation members and three advisors in order to have equality between the two groups. We had clearly communicated to both delegations that the number of participants should be limited to an overall number of 10 persons per delegation. This was communicated before the arrival of all the delegations. And this is something we have discussed tonight.

Both the Yemeni and international community are looking to the Geneva consultations as a peaceful way out of the conflict and to safeguard the achievement of Yemen’s transition as set out in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) agreement and its implementation mechanism and supported and followed by various Security Council Resolutions, including Security Council Resolution 2216 and the outcome of the National Dialogue.

The consultations are a first step to generate proposals for the Yemeni sides on how to improve the current situation and alleviate and bring to an end the human suffering. The consultations are based on agreed principles. I’m sure, I hope that the Yemeni sides will utilize the consultations to share ideas, in particular about how to alleviate the humanitarian situation and to de-escalate the violence.

Discussions will hopefully foster mechanisms that create confidence, increase the chances of implementation of the different Security Council Resolutions and to ensure that compromises on one side will not be abused by the other. The Yemeni people deserve it tonight from us.

The following is an unofficial translation of remarks to the Press made by the United Nations Envoy to Yemen in Arabic in Geneva :

United Nations Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Sheikh Ahmed, responding to journalists’ questions, said: “As you know, the shape of such consultations is an issue that always takes time and needs a lot of discussion. It is not one session or two, there is a discussion on several issues today because we are talking about practical issues relating to the situation. We believe that in order to commence, the numbers need to be reduced and there has to be a balance between the two teams. This is what we talked about today and we will continue these consultations tomorrow God willing.”
Responding to another question, the Envoy said: “In a situation like this, the Yemenis need to talk among themselves, not with the United Nations. As long as we have not reached the point where the Yemenis agree together, this will be very difficult. For them to agree, they have to start talking together. This is the main issue that we have to concentrate on.

From the beginning, we agreed that there would be three main principles that we need to follow: first is the Gulf initiative and the mechanism to implement it; the second issue relates to the National Dialogue and its details; the third issue includes United Nations Security Council Resolutions, including 2216. I have not heard from any of the sides that there is disagreement on this. But you know, the devil is in the details. When we agree on how to sit at the table and discuss the situation, disagreements will arise and that is normal.

Today, if there is a main message, we have to remember that the Yemeni people are hoping for a ceasefire before Ramadan, even if it is a humanitarian ceasefire. Today, the Yemeni people are in a very difficult situation from the humanitarian point of view. I was the Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen less than two years ago. When I was there, 7 million Yemenis needed humanitarian assistance. Today, 21 million Yemenis need humanitarian assistance and 20 million have no drinking water. These are the real issues that the Yemeni citizen needs, to find a way to stop this war and for the Yemeni parties to agree. This is our aim. Thank you.”

For use of the information media; not an official record