Paris and Riyadh launch Yemen peace conference. Without Houthi rebels or NGOs

Humanitarian aid, economic and financial issues, humanitarian principles to be respected are at the center of the meeting. Absent the main operating organizations in the field. It weighs the missed invitation to the Shiite militias, active part of the conflict. The Emirates reject UN peace plans that involve Houthi involvement.


Paris (AsiaNews / Agencies) - In the presence of French President Emmanuel Macron and Saudi hereditary prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS), a Franco-Saudi peace conference for Yemen opens today in Paris.

Macron has stated that the summit aims to "clarify what needs to be done and what needs to be done" and "allow us to take on new humanitarian initiatives for the civilian population".

All of the international organizations and the States involved in the conflict in various ways were to have participated in the Paris meeting which was announced last April during a Mbs’ visit to France.

However, the Houthi rebels were not invited to the discussion table. And the NGOs operating on the field were also uninvited. Instead they will "be consulted" in separate locations.

The promoters have not formalized an agenda. But a note published by L'Orient-Le Jour (Loj) reveals the following discussion items: humanitarian aid; commitments and needs of the parties; economic and financial issues; humanitarian principles to be respected. The goal is to give "responses" to the numerous "difficulties" that have already been identified by "institutional, governmental and non-governmental actors".

The extent of the conflict in Yemen is confirmed by the figures: 20 million people depend on humanitarian aid; 17.8 million people suffer from food insecurity; 16.4 million people do not have access to health care. According to a World Health Organization (WHO) the death toll since 2015, the start date of the war, is around 10 thousand dead and 55 thousand injured.

The Paris initiative raises more than one perplexity among humanitarian workers and observers, partly because one of the promoters (the Saudis) is among the main actors in the conflict with armed support for government forces.

The Wahhabi-led coalition is burdened by accusations of violence and loss of human lives "unacceptable" because it is responsible for 51% of deaths among civilians, among whom there are also children. The non-invitation to the Shiite Houthi rebels, who thanks to Iran's support have taken control of part of the country, especially in northern Yemen, is also staggering.

The situation has worsened recently, following the offensive launched by the Saudi forces, for the conquest of the port and the airport of Hudaydah.

The area is of great strategic importance, since it is the only mooring point for humanitarian aid, destined for a population prostrated for over three years of war. In reference to the offensive, dozens of NGOs in recent days have sent a letter to French President Macron in which they state that "the situation today in Yemen is unsustainable".

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), also involved in the offensive in Hudaydah, who are included in the in the talks, reject any agreement for the UN-sponsored ceasefire that does not provide for the complete withdrawal of the Houthi . Finally, medical and military sources in the area report that in the last 24 hours at least 55 people died as a result of fighting in the province.

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