Message from the Chairman

Dear Members,

Our AGM was well attended on 2 June, just before the start of Ramadan.  The buffet at Baden Powell House, over the road from the Yemeni Embassy, made it a pleasant social occasion.  Our Yemeni co-President, HE Dr Yassin Noman, attended, but the British Ambassador to Yemen, Edmund Fitton-Brown, was unable to attend as he was engaged with the prolonged Yemeni peace talks taking place in Kuwait under the guidance of UN Special Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed.

I said in the introduction to my report to the AGM that the talks have dragged on now for over a month - now more than two months - and mentioned the repeated appeals from Ould Cheikh Ahmed and the international community - and of course from Yemenis - for the two sides to reach some sort of agreement and a pathway to peace.  But definitive progress remains elusive.  In late June UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon travelled to Kuwait to urge the delegations to show the responsibility and flexibility required to arrive at a comprehensive agreement.  He stressed that "with every day that the conflict remains unresolved, their situation grows worse.  The longer the conflict endures, the more time it will take for Yemen to recover".

Sadly the holy month of Ramadan has not brought peace to Yemen.  Even if the fighting between the main combatants has eased a little over the past month, and some prisoners have been exchanged, there have been a number of grave incidents, including suicide attacks in Mukalla claimed by ISIS and causing over 40 reported deaths.

We have come to the end of a testing Ramadan and wish our Yemeni friends and members of the B-YS "Eid Mubarak", with the sincere hope that Yemen's dreadful and wasteful conflict can finally be brought to an end.  Conditions in Yemen have continued to deteriorate, and even though this Ramadan, falling at the most difficult time of the year, has ended, the remaining summer months will continue to be difficult, with water, food, fuel and electricity in short supply, or totally lacking.

We plan to start our next BYS season on September 8, most probably with a "Yemen crisis update" meeting - exact arrangements have yet to be made.  We also hope to take the opportunity to precede that meeting with a short Special General Meeting to approve amendments to our society's constitution, to iron out some small inconsistencies, and to bring it more into line with practice as it has evolved over recent years.

Our new Hon. Treasurer, John Huggins, and our Hon Secretary Audrey Allfree have spent a good bit of time tidying up our membership records.  Can I repeat the appeal that I made at the AGM, for members to check that they have paid their subscriptions at the current rate (£20 p.a.) and to encourage all to pay by standing order if they possibly can?

Dr Robert Wilson OBE

6 July 2016