Saturday, September 24, 2022

UN envoy to seek longer, expanded truce in Yemen’s civil war

UNITED NATIONS ( Associated Press) — The UN special envoy for Yemen said Monday that he plans to explore the possibility of a longer and expanded truce with the country’s warring parties in the coming weeks.

Hans Grundberg said an extension could be a good step towards a ceasefire in the country’s eight-year civil war. He did not provide details on the length or expansion he seeks before the August 2 expiration of the current two-month truce extension.

Grundberg told the UN Security Council that renewing the truce would provide time and opportunity to start serious discussions about Yemen’s economy and security and start addressing priority issues such as income and salary payments.

“I ask the parties to engage with me on these issues with a sense of urgency and flexibility,” he said.

The ceasefire between Yemen’s internationally recognized government and Iran-backed Houthi rebels initially went into effect on April 2 and was extended on June 2. six years of conflict in the most impoverished nation in the Arab world.

“To date, the truce has held for more than three months,” Grundberg said.

Civilian casualties are down by two-thirds, compared to the three months before the truce began, he said. And since the renewal of the truce on June 2, seven fuel ships carrying almost 200,000 metric tons of various fuel products have been authorized to enter Yemen’s main port, Hodeidah.

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Since the start of the truce, 15 round-trip commercial flights have transported nearly 7,000 passengers between the Yemeni capital Sanaa and the Jordanian capital Amman, Grundberg added. He said talks are underway with Egyptian authorities about scheduled flights to Cairo.

Under the truce, the parties pledged to meet to agree on the opening of roads, including lifting the Houthi ground blockade on Taiz, Yemen’s third-largest city. Grundberg said the Houthis rejected the latest UN proposal on a gradual opening but would continue their efforts to find a solution.

“An agreement on opening roads in Taiz and other governorates would be momentous and its benefits would reverberate throughout Yemen,” he said.

The UN envoy expressed concern about the “troubling escalation of rhetoric from parties questioning the benefits of the truce” in recent weeks.

He called this “a dangerous move”, urged the parties to stop such rhetoric and warned that the alternative to the truce “is a return to hostilities and probably an intensified phase of the conflict with all its predictable consequences for Yemeni civilians and the region security. .”

Grundberg said the UN continues to receive reports from both sides of alleged incidents including direct and indirect fire, drone strikes, reconnaissance overflights and new fortifications.

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“Allegedly, the parties are also sending reinforcements to the main front lines, including in Marib, Hodeida and Taiz,” he said.

Fighting in Yemen erupted in 2014, when the Houthis descended from their northern enclave and seized the capital, forcing the government into exile in Saudi Arabia. A Saudi-led coalition entered the war in early 2015 to try to restore the ruling government.

The conflict, which eventually escalated into a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, has killed more than 150,000 people, including more than 14,500 civilians, and created one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, pushing millions of Yemenis into the brink of famine.

Joyce Msuya, assistant secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, told the council that the Yemeni rial continues to fall and “many more families are going hungry again.”

But she said the UN World Food Program was forced to cut rations for millions of people several weeks ago because the UN’s $4.27 billion appeal for humanitarian aid for Yemen this year has received little more. of $1.1 billion.

In addition, Msuya said, a UN verification and inspection system created in 2016 to facilitate vital commercial imports to Yemen is also running out of money and will close in September unless it gets $3.5 million to cover import operations. the last months of the year.

Nation World News Desk
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