NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is expected to shortly name Swedish diplomat Hans Grundberg as his new Yemen envoy, diplomats said, after China informally gave the greenlight for the appointment following a delay of several weeks.
The 15-member Security Council has to approve Grundberg – by consensus – as a replacement for Martin Griffiths, who became the U.N. 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. U.N. 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.
But China said it needed more time. An official with China’s U.N. mission in New York said on Monday that China had now signed off on Grundberg’s appointment, but declined to comment on why Beijing’s approval had been delayed.
Guterres will now formally notify the council of Grundberg’s appointment and the council will respond in a letter giving the greenlight. A spokesman for Guterres declined to comment.
A Saudi Arabia-led military coalition intervened in neighboring Yemen in 2015 after the Iran-aligned Houthi group ousted the country’s government from the capital Sanaa. The Houthis say they are fighting a corrupt system. Yemen President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government is now in Aden, though Hadi is based in the Saudi capital Riyadh.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by William Maclean)