Dutch ambassador visits Yemen, hopes for movement in peace process

The Dutch ambassador for Yemen has been on mission for the first time in the country ravaged by a civil war. The conflict in Yemen is also known as the largest humanitarian crisis in the world. Because of the war, the Dutch embassy has been closed there since 2015.

Ambassador Peter Derrek Hof was now back for the first time, he told in the CCEit Radio 1 Journal. โ€œWe visited a number of European colleagues to support the new unitary government. We were the first delegation from abroad. This government is a fragile yet important attempt at greater unity in the country, and it deserves our support.โ€

Although it was very difficult to return to Yemen, according to Hof, the journey came at an essential moment. โ€œThe Yemeni government, recognised by all of us, returned from Saudi Arabia at the end of December after many years of exile. And upon landing, the entire government barely escaped from an attack.โ€

Hof was in Aden, an important port city in the south of the country. There he saw the serious damage caused by the conflict. โ€œIt starts already at the airport. The havoc of the attack on the government is still clearly visible. You can see the completely damaged VIP lounge, the runway that was hit. The city itself is also quite unsafe at the moment, there are many attacks.โ€

He also saw the division in the country from the presence of troops. โ€œOfficially, there is now the unity government and the southern insurgents are part of it, but I saw mainly troops from the southern insurgents flying their own flag. The Presidential Guard, the military of the government, I actually only saw around the Presidential Palace.โ€

As far as the Court is concerned, the picture remains gloomy, with an imminent famine and the UN which needs at least 3.5 billion for the humanitarian operation in Yemen. โ€œAnd there is little perspective for young people. A young woman told me that the only way for young people to get money is to start fighting. On the Houthis side or on the side of the government.โ€

Zoom with the Houthis

Court draws hope to the plans of President Biden, who has said that he wants to do more to stop the conflict. โ€œIt is very positive that the US is back on the Yemen dossier and has declared the end of the conflict a priority again. This can give momentum to the peace process, because it has been silent for a long time.โ€

To help the process, the Netherlands is also in talks with the Houthi rebels, although the ambassador did not visit them this time. โ€œBut also the Houthis have Zoom,โ€ said Hof. โ€œIt is true, it is an extremist rebel movement, but at the same time they control one third of the country and there live more than two thirds of the population. It is impossible to reach peace without even talking to the Houthis.โ€

Terror, refugees and trade

According to Hof, the Dutch involvement is not based solely on moral arguments. He points out that Yemen is a breeding ground for terrorism. โ€œAl-Qaeda is there, ISIS is there, they are terrorist organisations that can also prepare attacks on us, in Europe.โ€

In his view, the Netherlands also benefits from a solution to the conflict in order to combat refugee flows from Yemen. โ€œAnd Yemen is on an important shipping route. This route is occasionally hit by Houthis sea mines. This can get worse, so the conflict may also have an impact on our economy at some point.โ€