UN envoy says prospect of return to war in Yemen is 'real' as truce deadline approaches

Hans Grundberg has intensified efforts to renew truce before deadline on Saturday

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The prospect of a return to war in Yemen is “real”, UN special envoy to the country Hans Grundberg has said.

He was speaking after meetings with Yemeni, Saudi and Omani officials in Riyadh and Muscat this week as the deadline for renewing Yemen's truce approaches.

“We are at a crossroads where the risk of a return to war is real and I am urging the parties to choose an alternative that prioritises the needs of the Yemeni people”, Mr Grundberg said after the meetings on Tuesday evening.

Yemen has been experiencing relative calm and a significant reduction in violence on front lines since the UN-brokered truce among warring parties took effect in April.

It has since been renewed three times for two-month iterations and is set to expire on Saturday as the UN seeks a broader expansion.

The UN has been calling for a wider truce that extends beyond two months but long-standing sticking issues such as reopening the roads around the besieged city of Taez and paying civil servants' salaries after six years of stagnation have prevented real progress towards political peace from being made.

Deadly violations of the truce by the Iran-backed Houthis, including an attack that killed 10 military personnel in Taez last month, have also made matters more complicated for the government.

During the 77th UN General Assembly in New York last week, the head of Yemen's Presidential Council Rashad Al Alimi said his country welcomes the truce as long as it does not take place at the expense of the Yemeni public.

The truce has brought several benefits to Yemenis including the reopening of flights in and out of the Houthi-controlled capital Sanaa, after the airport had been closed for six years, as well as fuel imports through the port of Hodeidah.

An oil tanker truck departs from the Red Sea port of Hodeida in western Yemen on April 13, 2022. AFP

“Tangible benefits of the truce to the Yemeni people include a 60 per cent reduction in casualties, the quadrupling of fuel through Hodeidah port, and commercial flights from Sanaa allowing 21,000 passenger to receive medical treatment and unite with families,” the UN said at a Security Council meeting early this month.

But not all Yemenis seemed to acknowledge the UN efforts or the results brought about since the agreement in April. Many expressed their disapproval by responding to the UN envoy's tweet about his regional meetings.

“What does the renewal of a truce mean if the conditions of the first and second version were not even met,” wrote Twitter user Mohammad Al Ghulisi.

“Extending the truce without the payment of salaries is folly and pointless,” wrote civil engineer Hamood Alhaddad.

“Open the roads to Taez. Enough lying to the people!” wrote Azan Almohalal.

Updated: September 29, 2022, 3:52 AM
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