I am saddened to have to say that the news from Yemen has not improved since I wrote at the beginning of July. The peace talks in Kuwait paused for a couple of weeks at the end of June but resumed in mid-July. The Kuwaiti Government gave the sides in the talks two weeks to reach agreement, but this was almost scuppered when, on 28 July, the Houthis and Saleh's GPC announced the formation of a supreme political council to govern the country, sidelining the UN-brokered peace process and challenging any prospect of President Hadi's internationally recognised government returning to Sana'a. Despite this, there has been agreement to extend talks for a further week though it is difficult indeed to predict any positive outcome. Saleh and the Houthis have been able to take advantage of the widespread anger at the destruction and disruption caused by many months of Saudi air attacks to rally public support in the parts of the country where they have the strongest control. In other parts of the country the popular resistance to the Houthi-Saleh takeover has been challenged by extremist anti-Houthi elements who, most recently destroyed a historic Sufi shrine in a village near Taizz, after allegedly massacring a number of villagers. The overall picture offers little ground for optimism.
It is hard to see a political outcome to all this, and while conflict continues the humanitarian situation - and Yemen's economy - continues to deteriorate. There will be the longer term effects, too - the traumas of war, the disrupted education, the damage to culture and heritage, and the bitter sectarian and political splits that are so alien to Yemeni culture. The BYS plans to continue to support medical and humanitarian work in Yemen as much as it can, and our appeal remains open.
Dr Robert Wilson OBE
7 August 2016