UNITED NATIONS, United States — The UN Security Council on Sunday voiced unanimous support for Yemen's President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi and the unity of the country, amid warnings it is sliding dangerously towards civil war.
"The Security Council reaffirms its strong commitment to the unity, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Yemen, and its commitment to stand by the people of Yemen," the 15 members said in a statement during an emergency meeting in New York.
The council "supports the legitimacy" of Hadi, it added in its statement, and also made a vague threat of more sanctions against the Shiite militia, known as Huthis, who seized a key central Yemeni city's airport on Sunday.
Talking to the Security Council by video link from Qatar, UN Special Adviser Jamal Benomar, who has tried to mediate the conflict for several months, warned that recent events "seem to be leading Yemen to the edge of a civil war". "The country will slide further into further violence and dislocation," he said.
"In conclusion, I urge all sides in spite of rising tensions to appreciate the gravity of the situation and to deescalate by ceasing all hostilities and refraining from provocations and using violence... peaceful dialogue is the only way forward." Impoverished but strategic Yemen has descended into chaos in recent months, with the Huthis seizing control of the capital Sanaa and forcing Hadi to flee to the main southern city of Aden.
The emergency meeting came against the backdrop of a deteriorating security crisis that saw suicide bombings on Friday – claimed by the Islamic State group – kill 142 people in Sanaa.
Washington then evacuated all its personnel, underlining fears in the West of growing instability.
Benomar told the Security Council that Yemen was in danger of seeing a protracted crisis like those seen elsewhere in the region – "a Libya-Syria combined scenario".
"Yemen is on a rapid downward spiral," he added, warning of "worrying sectarian tones and deepening north-south divisions".
However, during closed consultations, Benomar did not suggest measures that could bring the warring parties to the negotiating table, according to diplomats.
US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, said the people of Yemen were in increasingly dire need.
"It is the Yemeni people who will continue to feel the consequences if all parties do not immediately cease military actions and return to Yemen's political transition," she said in a statement.
"Nearly 16 million people, 61 per cent of the population in Yemen, are in grave need of humanitarian assistance." — AFP