Yemen's Houthis say they will reopen two Taez roads

Group says it has agreed to open two roads in 'first phase' of an operation

A man walks past buildings damaged by war in Taez, Yemen. Reuters
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Yemen's Houthi rebels say they have agreed to reopen two roads around the city of Taez, the group's Saba news agency reported on Thursday.

The militant group said it had submitted “notes” to the UN special envoy to Yemen, Hans Grundberg, confirming the decision to reopen the Salleh road to Sanaa and roads between Lahej and Aden.

The UN special envoy's office could not immediately be reached to confirm the claim.

Saba news, quoting an unindentified military source, said the Houthis would reopen the two roads “immediately” in the “first phase” of an operation.

“After the first phase is complete, the committees will continue UN-sponsored talks to commence the reopening of the remaining roads, according to what is agreed upon,” the Houthis said.

A UN-brokered nationwide truce, which was renewed this month, stipulates that the Houthis would reopen roads around Taez — which has been under a lengthy siege by the group.

But a Yemeni diplomatic source told The National that the proposed roads agreed to by the Houthis will only "alleviate the suffering of the people of Taez by 10 per cent", due to their relatively small size.

UN humanitarian co-ordinator to Yemen David Gressly told The National last week that access to the roads will allow people to return home and make aid more accessible.

UN special envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg held talks with Houthi officials on reopening routes to the blockaded city of Taez. EPA

The conflict has forced millions of Yemenis from their homes and made 70 per cent of the population reliant on aid in what the UN has called the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

The UN special envoy's second visit to Sanaa since he took over the role in September centred on the issue of Taez, one of the most problematic issues between the warring sides.

Under the truce, Sanaa International Airport resumed flights to Amman and Cairo for the first time since it closed six years ago, providing much-needed relief for Yemenis seeking medical treatment abroad.

US special envoy to Yemen Tim Lenderking told The National on Sunday that he hopes the temporary truce will turn into a ceasefire before August 2.

Updated: June 23, 2022, 9:14 PM