UN's new Yemen envoy named after delayed Chinese approval

UN's new Yemen envoy named as Sweden's Grundberg after delayed Chinese approval
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Swedish diplomat Hans Grundberg has been the European Union ambassador to Yemen since September 2019.
Despite the delay, the UN Secretary-General has named Hans Grundberg as his new Yemen envoy [NurPhoto/Getty]

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday named Swedish diplomat Hans Grundberg as his new Yemen envoy after a delay of several weeks as China considered whether to approve the appointment, which needed consensus Security Council agreement.

The 15-member council approved Grundberg this week as a replacement for Martin Griffiths, who became the UN aid chief last month after trying to mediate an end to the conflict in Yemen for the past three years.

The war has killed tens of thousands of people and caused a dire humanitarian crisis, pushing Yemen to the brink of famine.

Grundberg has been the European Union ambassador to Yemen since September 2019. United Nations officials informally floated his name to council members to solicit views by mid-July and 14 members said they would agree to the appointment, diplomats said.

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But China said it needed more time. An official with China's UN mission in New York declined to comment on why Beijing's approval had been delayed.

UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said Grundberg brings to his new job over 20 years of experience in international affairs, including more than 15 years working in conflict resolution with a focus on the Middle East.

He previously served with both Swedish and EU missions, including postings in Cairo and Jerusalem as well as Brussels, where he chaired the Middle East/Gulf Working Group of the EU Council during the 2009 Swedish presidency of the European Union.

A Saudi Arabia-led military coalition intervened in neighbouring Yemen in 2015 after the Iran-aligned Houthi group ousted the country's government from the capital, Sanaa.

This coalition has been slammed by human rights groups, who claim its bombing is frequently indiscriminate has killed tens of thousands of civilians.

Yemen President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's government is now in Aden, though Hadi is based in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

(Reuters, AP)