UK warns against return to conflict and urges Yemen's Houthis to extend ceasefire

Foreign Office says civilian deaths have decreased dramatically since the UN-brokered truce took effect

Britain's Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has urged Yemen's Houthi rebels to extend a UN-brokered truce.
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Britain's Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has said that Yemen must not return to conflict as he called on the Houthi rebels to return to negotiations before the expiry of a UN-brokered ceasefire agreement on Sunday.

Mr Cleverly said that the cessation of hostilities had brought "tangible benefits" to Yemenis, adding that he welcomed the government of Yemen’s commitment to extend the truce further.

"Houthis continue to endanger the talks and deny Yemenis a peaceful future," he said in a statement issued by the UK's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

“We call on the Houthis to engage constructively with UN Special Envoy Hans Grundberg’s efforts to broker an extension to the truce, so that serious dialogue about achieving a peaceful, inclusive and Yemeni-led future can take place".

The FCDO said that since the truce, civilian casualties have fallen dramatically in Yemen and cross-border attacks by the Houthis into Saudi Arabia and the UAE had stopped.

This came as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that both sides in the conflict should prioritise the national interests of the Yemeni people and “choose peace for good.”

His statement followed a stark warning by Mr Grundberg that the risk of a return to fighting “is real.”

Yemen’s civil war began in 2014 when the Houthis seized the capital, Sanaa, and much of northern Yemen and forced the internationally recognised government into exile.

Both sides accepted the truce for two months at the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on April 2.

It has been extended twice, and Mr Grundberg and the UN secretary general have been pushing both sides for a longer extension to try to start negotiations toward ending the conflict.

“Over the past six months,” Mr Guterres said, “the government of Yemen and the Houthis have taken important and bold steps towards peace by agreeing to, and twice renewing, a nationwide truce negotiated by the United Nations.”

With the Sunday deadline looming, he strongly urged the parties to expand the duration and terms of the truce in line with a proposal presented by Mr Grundberg that has not been made public.

Nabil Jamel, a government negotiator, said the UN proposal includes ways to pay civil servants in Houthi-held territories and reopen roads of blockaded cities, including Taiz.

Updated: October 01, 2022, 4:36 PM