UNGA 2020: Yemen President says 'hand of peace' rejected by Houthis

Top Yemeni official tells Houthis to stop the 'bloodletting' in an address to the United Nations

epa08693887 A handout photo made available by the United Nations (UN) shows Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi Mansour, President of Republic of Yemen speaking on screen during the 75th General Assembly of the United Nations, in New York, New York, USA, 24 September 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 75th General Assembly of the United Nations meetings are held mostly via videoconference.  EPA/ESKINDER DEBEBE HANDOUT  HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES
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Yemen’s Houthis have turned county’s capital into a prison and taken its state institutions hostage, President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi said on Thursday as he urged the rebels to stop the “bloodletting” and embrace peace talks.

Yemen has been mired into a bloody war since 2014 after the rebels took over Sanaa forcing Mr Hadi’s administration to flee to Aden and later move to Riyadh.

Rebel attacks escalated into a full-out war in March 2015. The chaos that ensued provided fertile ground for other extremists, such as ISIS and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, to take root.

“The Houthi rebels have taken Yemen's state institutions hostage, persecuted citizens, and transformed Sanaa into a prison," Mr Hadi said in an address to the United Nations General Assembly.

"We are trying to save our country and establish a just and lasting peace," he said, blaming Iran directly for meddling in his nation. "The objective is to stop the bloodletting in Yemen."

He urged Iran to stop interfering in his country.

“We are living in difficult and harsh conditions as a result of the war imposed on our people by the Houthi militia, and its regional supporter, Iran," he said.

The Yemeni president praised the United Nations role in pushing for peace since 2011. Its efforts gained international attention earlier this year as the coronavirus pandemic threatened Yemen's devastated health system and international officials warned as many as 18 million people could contract the virus.

However, fighting continues to rage as the rebels push into the oil-rich government stronghold of Marib.

“We have extended our hand for peace and did everything we could to support and facilitate UN efforts in order to save the country and reach a lasting and comprehensive peace that stops the Yemeni bloodshed,” Mr Hadi said.

The Yemeni president reminded the public of the concessions his administration has made during the last five years to achieve peace.

“Unfortunately, these were met with complete stubbornness by the terrorist Houthi militia and their supporters in the Iranian regime, they exploited this to escalate attacks against provinces and cities, and commit massacres against civilians,” he said.

Mr Hadi also urged the UN to pressure the Houthis to allow a group of experts to board and assess an abandoned oil tanker that risks causing massive environmental damage to the Red Sea.

Saudi Arabia, which has been supporting Mr Hadi's administration, warned late Wednesday that an "oil spot" has been seen close to the tanker off the western coast of Yemen.

The FSO Safer tanker, once used to offload crude produced in Yemen to tankers for export, is moored off the coast of Hodeidah and holds nearly 1.1 million barrels of oil.

But the decades-old vessel has been abandoned since the start of the Yemen war in 2015 without upkeep and proper monitoring.

As cracks have appeared experts, the UN, as well as the Saudi and Yemeni governments, have issued warnings about the potential catastrophe if swift action is not taken.