Yemen Peace Talks: UN Evacuates Injured Houthi Rebels from Sanaa
U.N. Boeing B-767 (Photo: Project Unified Assistance)

As a goodwill gesture before fresh talks for truce negotiations in the Yemen war, the Saudi-led coalition has allowed the UN to evacuate 50 injured Houthi rebels for medical treatment from the war-torn country.

The Houthi rebels were flown out from the Yemeni capital of Sanaa to Muscat, Oman for treatment in a United Nations aircraft. This development came after UN’s Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths requested this of the Saudi-led coalition as gesture of goodwill before the warring parties meet in Sweden for talks. A statement said Griffiths was “pleased to confirm 50 injured Yemenis are on their way from Sana’a to Muscat for medical treatment … and urges all Yemenis to work together in pursuit of peace and stability.”

The spokesperson for the Saudi-UAE coalition, Turki al-Maliki confirmed this development in a separate statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency. "A UN chartered plane will arrive at Sanaa international airport Monday to evacuate 50 wounded combatants accompanied by ... three Yemeni doctors and a UN doctor, from Sanaa to Muscat."

The military alliance led by Saudi Arabia agreed to facilitate the medical evacuations at the request of Griffiths for "humanitarian reasons" and as a "confidence-building" measure, Maliki added in the statement.

The negotiations were set to begin sometime in December but no date has been confirmed as yet. These talks are the second-attempt by the UN to broker a peace deal between the Houthi rebels, the internationally recognised government of Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

A previous round of talks scheduled in September had collapsed after Houthi rebel representatives had not shown up due to security concerns. The intervening four months have meant that Yemenis are even more worse off with the UN calling the country, the world’s worst humanitarian crisis as hunger and famine has spread across the country.

The UN aid chief, Mark Lowcock, warned last week that Yemen was “on the brink of a major catastrophe”, after a trip to the war-stricken country. Lowcock said: “In Aden, I met emaciated children so malnourished they could barely open their eyes. Humanitarian assistance helps many of these children recover. But I also heard heartbreaking stories of children relapsing again and again because their families simply can’t afford food or proper medical care.”