UN appoints former British diplomat as new Yemen envoy

UN appoints former British diplomat as new Yemen envoy
2 min read
17 February, 2018
A former British diplomat has been given the difficult task of leading UN efforts to end the war in Yemen, where fighting sees no signs of abating.
The war in Yemen is no closer to ending [Getty]

A former British diplomat will lead UN efforts to bring peace to Yemen, as Martin Griffiths becomes the third envoy in seven years.

Griffiths was appointed by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as the UN's new Yemen envoy Friday, replacing Mauritania's Esmail Ould Shaikh Ahmad who struggled to end the conflict.

The 15 member UN Security Council approved Guterres recommendation on Thursday evening, paving the way for Griffiths to replace the Mauritanian envoy whose contract ends this month.

Griffiths faces challenging waters ahead. Houthi rebels are still in charge of the capital, a Saudi-led alliance continues its bombardment of the country and the threat of famine and disease hangs over the country.

Added to this, southern separatist sentiments are on the rise risking an escalation in tensions around Aden.

The UN believes that Griffiths - executive director of the European Institute of Peace - could help ease the tensions.

"Griffiths brings extensive experience in conflict resolution, negotiation, mediation and humanitarian affairs," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Friday, according to Reuters.

Griffiths is a seasoned diplomat. In addition to his experience in the UK foreign office, he has also worked with UNICEF and Save the Children. 

In 1994 he was selected as director of UN humanitarian affairs and four years later moved to New York as deputy head of the UN emergency relief programme.

Ould Shaikh Ahmad's tenure saw a worsening situation in Yemen with blockades and fighting making the country the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Aid agencies have warned that famine could kill hundreds of thousands in Yemen if the war continues.