Yemen's warring sides face ‘huge responsibility’ to re-open roads in Taez, UN says

Since 2016, the Iran-backed Houthis have imposed a siege on the south-western city

Yemeni government troops on guard duty during a demonstration demanding the end of a years-long siege imposed by the Houthi rebels on Taez, the country's third city. Photo: AFP
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The UN has urged Yemen’s warring sides to reach an agreement on opening roads in Taez and other governorates.

The plea was made during talks in Amman on Tuesday between the UN and representatives of the Iran-backed Houthi rebels and the internationally recognised government.

Since 2016, the Houthis have imposed a siege on Taez, the capital of the province of the same name.

Hans Grundberg, the UN envoy to Yemen, shared with the parties “a revised proposal on the phased reopening of roads, including an implementation mechanism and guarantees for the safety of civilian travellers, based on the discussions with both sides,” according to a statement from his office.

Mr Grundberg’s plan is based on the reopening of the main route leading in and out of the south-western city as well as roads in other governorates. This is to ease civilian suffering and enable the delivery of goods to the besieged city.

“This is a first step in our collective efforts to lift restrictions on the freedom of movement of Yemeni women, men and children within the country,” the UN envoy said.

“The parties have a moral and political responsibility to engage seriously and urgently with the UN proposal, prioritising the interests of civilians and delivering immediate and tangible results to the people of Taez and Yemen at large."

The Taez plan is part of a UN-brokered truce that came into effect in early April. It was the first nationwide ceasefire in six years of the Yemen conflict, which is now in its eighth year.

The two sides agreed last week to extend the truce for two more months after concerted pressure from the UN and international aid groups.

“While I continue my efforts and engagement with the parties on this file, I hope the proposed initiative will sustain the momentum needed to move towards discussions on more durable arrangements within the multitrack process,” Mr Grundberg said.

Since the ceasefire came into effect, fighting has decreased, bringing calm to most parts of the country for the first time since 2014 when the Houthi rebels ousted Yemen's government.

This prompted an intervention by a Saudi-led coalition at the government's request in 2015.

Updated: June 07, 2022, 1:56 PM