UN-backed Yemen peace talks to start in Sweden

Peace talks between Yemeni government representatives and a rebel delegation will begin today in Sweden, the United Nations (UN) announced.

“The (UN special envoy) would like to announce the restart of the intra-Yemeni political process in Sweden on 6 December 2018,” UN envoy Martin Griffiths’ office tweeted.

Consultations are resuming for the first time since 2016. The last attempt at a negotiated peace collapsed in September when the Houthis failed to show up in Geneva. 106 days of negotiations had yielded no breakthrough in a war that has pushed 14 million people to the brink of famine.

A 12-member government delegation, led by Yemeni Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yamani, arrived in Stockholm Wednesday evening, one day after a rebel delegation flew in from Sanaa accompanied by the UN envoy.

The Sweden meeting follows two major confidence-boosting gestures between the warring parties, a prisoner swap deal and the evacuation of 50 wounded insurgents from the rebel-held capital for treatment in neutral Oman.

Nearly 10,000 people have been killed since Saudi Arabia and its allies joined the government’s fight against the Huthis, according to the World Health Organization, triggering what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Rights groups estimate the toll could be up to five times as high.

Yemen has been devastated by a conflict that escalated in early 2015 when the Houthis seized control of much of the west of the country and forced President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi to flee abroad.

Alarmed by the rise of a group they saw as an Iranian proxy, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and seven other Arab states intervened in an attempt to restore the government.

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