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UN chief set to appoint Briton Martin Griffiths as Yemen envoy

© AFP/File | Martin Griffiths, left, seen here escorting the then Indonesian government chief negotiator Sastro Handoyo Wiryono in 2003, is set to be appointed as the new United Nations envoy to Yemen


United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Security Council on Tuesday that he intends to appoint Britain's Martin Griffiths as the new UN peace envoy to Yemen, according to a letter obtained by AFP.

War-wracked Yemen is what the UN calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with 60 percent of the population -- 17 million people -- in need of food, seven million of whom are at risk of famine.

Griffiths, who is executive director of the Brussels-based European Institute of Peace, "brings extensive experience in conflict resolution, negotiation, mediation and humanitarian affairs," Guterres wrote in the letter.

Griffiths would replace Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed of Mauritania, who last month announced that he would not stay on as Yemen envoy beyond the end of his contract at the end of this month.

Cheikh Ahmed failed to make progress in diplomatic efforts to end the war in Yemen as UN envoy since April 2015.

His predecessor, Jamal Benomar, also quit after four years of efforts to establish a political transition fell apart and the Saudi-led coalition began an air campaign in Yemen.

Council members have until 5:00 pm (2200 GMT) Thursday to raise objections to the appointment of Griffiths, who served as an adviser to the UN envoys for Syria from 2012 to 2014.

Diplomats, however, said they expected the council to endorse the appointment following weeks of consultations.

If confirmed, Griffiths would take on one of the most challenging peace missions, with little hope that a settlement could be within sight.

More than 9,200 people have been killed since the Saudi-led alliance joined the Yemen war, according to the World Health Organization.

A severe cholera outbreak has also left 2,000 people dead and one million infected, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Born in 1951, Griffiths was the founding director of the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue in Geneva, which specializes in political dialogue. He held that position from 1999 to 2010.

He has also worked in the British diplomatic service and for international agencies, such as UNICEF and the non-governmental organization Save the Children.

In 1994, he was appointed director of UN humanitarian affairs in Geneva and in 1998 became deputy to the UN emergency relief coordinator in New York.

© 2018 AFP