Peace talks in Yemen postponed until the end of the year

UN Yemen envoy Martin Griffiths has postponed until the end of the year peace talks between the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels which had been due to open this month in Sweden.

Mr Griffiths has called on Saudi Arabia to halt its accelerated offensive against Yemen’s main port of Hodeidah, which has been under Houthi control since 2015. “Any military escalation does not help efforts to launch the political process. No one wants to see a catastrophe in Hodeidah,” he said.

State department under secretary David Hale renewed a US call for an end to Saudi bombing of built-up areas, about 35 per cent of the country, but did not call for an immediate ceasefire or a halt to the Hodeidah campaign.

The failure to achieve a ceasefire and the postponement of talks could permit the US-backed coalition offensive against the Houthis in and around Hodeidah to continue through December. Since 80 per cent of Yemen’s imports of food and medicine and 70 per cent of humanitarian aid pass through Hodeidah, disruption of port operations or destruction of facilities could amount to a death sentence for millions of Yemenis.

The fighting puts at risk half of Yemen’s 28 million people who already face famine.