UN envoy wants to expand Yemen truce

Hans Grundberg calls lack of agreement on roads opening in Taez ‘regrettable’

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The UN's envoy to Yemen wants to renew and expand the country's three-month truce.

“In the coming weeks, I will continue to explore with the parties the possibility of a longer extension and an expanded truce agreement,“ Hans Grundberg told the UN Security Council on Monday.

“This would provide time and the opportunity to start serious discussions on the economy and security tracks, to start addressing priority issues such as revenues as well as the payment of salaries and to begin the process of moving toward a ceasefire.”

The UN-brokered agreement began on April and has been renewed just once since.

”Let us be clear, the alternative to the truce is a return to hostilities and likely an intensified phase of conflict with all of its predictable consequences for Yemeni civilians and regional security,” Mr Grundberg said.

He also said that the unilateral opening of roads by the warring parties could be a “step in the right direction”, but reiterated the need for a bilateral settlement.

”Agreement from both sides is important because road openings require co-ordination and ongoing communication to ensure that roads are opened safely and sustainably for civilian passage,” he said.

Mr Grundberg also said that his latest proposal on a phased opening of roads around Taez had been rejected by the Houthis.

”Still, my efforts to reach a negotiated solution will continue,” he said.

Since the truce began, Mr Grundberg said 15 commercial round-trip flights between Sanaa and Amman have commenced following the reopening of the rebel-held Yemeni capital's international airport after six years of closure.

The flights have carried almost 7,000 passengers, the UN official said.

Flights to and from Cairo have been less successful amid reports that the Houthis have been allowing passengers with illegitimate passports to board.

”We continue working closely with the Egyptian authorities to facilitate regular flights to and from Cairo,” Mr Grundberg said, adding that work is being done to ensure that flights take place regularly.

He also said that the warring parties are discussing forming a Joint Co-ordination Room to “de-escalate incidents at the operational level” on the front lines, as accusations of reinforcements, fortifications and reconnaissance flights are exchanged.

Yemen is in its eighth year of war since the Houthis took over Sanaa in 2014, prompting the internationally recognised government to ask for Saudi Arabia’s help. Since then, a Saudi-led coalition has been backing the government in its fight against the Houthis to restore the government to power.

Updated: July 12, 2022, 6:40 AM