UN chief Ban says Yemen is ‘in flames’

April 17, 2015 09:30 am | Updated November 28, 2021 09:54 am IST - WASHINGTON

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Thursday for an immediate ceasefire in Yemen to spur peace talks and get lifesaving aid into the Middle East nation.

The U.N. chief addressed “the many fateful challenges” the world confronts, from 50 million refugees and displaced people the largest number since World War II to the urgent problem of climate change in a speech at the National Press Club.

“Millions of people face hatred and persecution, billions suffer from hunger and exploitation,” he said. “The United Nations has appealed for $16 billion to cover humanitarian relief for this year almost five times what we needed a decade ago.”

Surveying the crisis-ridden state of the world and the “many fateful challenges on our plate,” Mr. Ban pointed to the ever—worsening “nightmare” in Syria, now in its fifth year, and said his envoy Staffan de Mistura will be holding a series of talks in Geneva to see if anyone is “truly serious” about engaging in meaningful negotiations to end the conflict. He made a special plea for Palestinians in the Yarmouk refugee camp caught between the Syrian government’s “military machine ... and the brutality of extremist groups.”

Mr. Ban said Yemen is “in flames,” and U.N.-brokered talks offered “the best way out of a drawn-out war with terrifying implications for regional stability.”

Mr. Ban said the U.N. is working on a plan of action, which will be launched in autumn, to fight violent extremism by the Islamic State, Boko Haram and al-Qaeda-linked groups such as al-Shabab in Somalia.

On Nigeria, he expressed hope that the country’s new government, led by President-elect Muhammadu Buhari, can promote “a return to normalcy” and rescue schoolchildren kidnapped and mistreated by Boko Haram. In South Sudan, where a civil war continues despite ceasefires, Mr. Ban said U.N. bases are sheltering 115,000 people, “a landmark in our efforts to protect civilians.”

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