Last updated: 19 October, 2011

UN chief meets with Yemeni Nobel peace laureate

UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday welcomed Yemeni Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawakkul Karman, and underscored the worsening economic and humanitarian situation in her country.

Ban’s spokesman Martin Nesirky said the UN chief “shared her concern that the protracted political stalemate had led to a deterioration of the economic and humanitarian situation as well as an escalation of violence causing great suffering for the Yemeni people.”

And Ban said the world body “was doing everything possible to help the Yemeni people resolve the current political standoff.”

On Tuesday, Karman joined about 100 protesters outside the UN headquarters to call for Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to stand down.

Karman — who shared the 2011 peace prize with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and “peace warrior” Leymah Gbowee, also from Liberia — has called on the United Nations to act immediately to halt the Yemeni government’s crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

Despite months of protests and international pressure, Saleh has refused to end his 33-year rule and step down despite a plan drawn up by the Gulf monarchies for a peaceful transfer of power.

At least 861 people have been killed and 25,000 wounded since protests first erupted, according to a letter from Yemen’s youth movement sent to the United Nations earlier this month.