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Ban notes Saudi Arabia's military operations in Yemen, urges protection of civilians

26 March 2015 – Noting Saudi Arabia's announcement that, at the request of the Government of Yemen, it has begun military operations in the Gulf nation, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on all parties to ensure the protection of civilians and emphasized that despite escalation, negotiations remain the only option for ultimately resolving the crisis.

"[Mr. Ban] is aware of reports that other States, in particular members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, are also supporting these operations," said a statement released from the Office of the UN chief's spokesperson.

"The Secretary-General reminds all parties involved of their obligations under international humanitarian law to ensure the protection of civilians and of all humanitarian and United Nations and associated personnel, as well as of the rules and principles of international human rights law and refugee law," the statement added.

Mr. Ban recalled last Sunday's Security Council's Presidential Statement which, while supporting the legitimacy of the Yemeni President, Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi, called upon all parties and Member States to refrain from taking any actions that undermine the unity, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Yemen.

At that emergency Council meeting, the Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Yemen Jamal Benomar warned that the country is on a "rapid downward spiral" as the conflict has taken on "worrying sectarian tones and deepening north-south divisions."

In statement following the meeting, the Council called on all Member States to refrain from external interference which seeks to foment conflict and instability and instead to support the political transition.

The situation in Yemen has been rapidly deteriorating since the country formed a new Government in November 2014 aimed at ending a period of political turbulence and bringing about a full transition towards democracy. The country has continued to be plagued by violence and political demonstrations despite UN efforts to bring about a peaceful political resolution.

Also today, the Secretary-General expressed appreciation for Mr. Benomar's tireless. Mr. Ban said he would continue to closely monitor the unfolding situation in Yemen.

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