UN Envoy Seeks to Extend Yemen Truce to Spur Ceasefire Talks

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The top U.N. envoy to Yemen said Monday that he is stepping up efforts to broker an expanded truce between the warring sides that would hopefully lead to the start of ceasefire talks and preparations to resume a Yemeni-led political process.

Hans Grundberg told the UN Security Council that the August 2 deal between the internationally recognized government and the Houthi rebels for a two-month extension of the truce continues the longest lull in fighting since the civil war began. from Yemen in 2014. The truce began on April 2.

He said the parties’ commitment to continue negotiations to reach an extended truce agreement by Oct. 2 also provides an opportunity to further improve the daily lives of Yemenis facing one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

Failure to extend the truce “would lead to renewed cycles of escalation and violence,” he warned in the briefing video. “Yemen urgently needs to avoid this scenario, and I call on the parties to make the decision to build the necessary trust to avoid a return to war and start building lasting peace.”

Yemen’s civil war erupted in 2014, when the Houthis descended from their northern enclave and seized the capital, forcing the government to flee south and then to Saudi Arabia. A coalition led by Saudi Arabia, later backed by the United States, entered the war in early 2015 to try to restore the ruling government. The conflict has since escalated into a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which backs the Houthis.

After four and a half months of truce, Grundberg said, it continues to “broadly hold in military terms” with no major military operations or changes in front lines and no confirmed airstrikes in Yemen or cross-border attacks from Yemen.

The significant decline in casualties since the start of the truce continues, with the lowest casualty count in the first week of August since the start of the truce and the war, he said.

But Ghada Mudawi, acting director of operations and defense at the UN humanitarian office, told the council that “according to open source reports, more than 150 civilians have been killed since the truce began in April.”

He cited the shelling of a residential district in Taiz, Yemen’s third-largest city, that killed one child and injured 10 other children on July 23.

Grundberg said he recently spent time on both sides of the front line in Taiz, and opening roads there and in other provinces “continues to be at the forefront of my efforts.” He said that various proposals with different sets of paths and sequencing options have been presented to the parties.

On a positive note, Grundberg said that since the truce, 33 ships have been cleared to enter Yemen’s main port of Hodeida, bringing nearly a million metric tons of various fuel products. In addition, 31 round-trip flights have been flown between the Houthi-controlled capital Sanaa and Amman, Jordan, carrying more than 15,000 passengers, he said.

Despite the truce, Mudawi, the UN humanitarian official, said “alarming conditions persist” in the economy.

He said the Yemeni rial exchange rate is now worse than before the truce and the food supply chain is “precarious”, with commercial food imports falling for the fourth month in a row, 30% below the average of 12 months. .

Nonetheless, Mudawi said aid agencies continue to reach an average of 11 million people across the country each month, though they continue to face “serious constraints,” including insecurity and incitement against agencies on social media.

“Aid agencies reported 532 access incidents in the second quarter of this year, an improvement over the first quarter but still equivalent to about six incidents per day, mainly due to movement restrictions,” it said.


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