UN envoy urges Yemen’s warring parties to renew truce

Two-month nationwide truce between Saudi-led coalition and the rebel Houthi group is due to expire at beginning of June.

People gather for a demonstration demanding the end of a years-long siege
An end to the Houthi siege of Taiz, Yemen's third biggest city, is on the agenda during talks in Amman [File: Ahmad Al-Basha/AFP]

The United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg has urged Yemen’s warring parties to renew their two-month nationwide truce, which is due to end on June 2.

A Saudi-led coalition and the Iran-aligned rebel Houthi group agreed to a truce that started on April 2, coinciding with the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and underscoring a significant step towards the end of Yemen’s seven-year conflict.

The first nationwide truce since 2016 had provided “a window of opportunity to break with the violence and suffering of the past and move towards a peaceful future in Yemen. The parties need to seize this opportunity,” Grundberg said.

INTERACTIVE - Yemen war - key players in the current conflict
(Al Jazeera)

“We have seen the tangible benefits the truce has delivered so far for the daily lives of Yemenis,” Grundberg said in a statement late on Wednesday.

“The parties need to renew the truce to extend and consolidate these benefits to the people of Yemen, who have suffered over seven years of war.”

Talks aimed at ending the Houthi blockade of Taiz, Yemen’s third biggest city – which has been largely cut off since 2015 – the continuation of recently resumed commercial flights from the Houthi-held capital Sanaa, and oil shipments to the port of Hodeidah, which is also under Houthi control, opened in the Jordanian capital, Amman, on Wednesday.

The Houthis seized Sanaa in 2014, eventually forcing the Yemeni government into exile, and triggering a Saudi-led military intervention in 2015.

The United Nations has long warned that the war in Yemen has caused the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Though exact figures are difficult to gather, the UN estimates that more than 377,000 people have died due to the conflict as of late 2021.

INTERACTIVE- Yemen war - humanitarian situation
(Al Jazeera

The UN and the United States’ envoys have been trying to establish a permanent ceasefire since last year to continue peace negotiations that have stalled since late 2018.

Under the truce, more than 1,000 passengers have flown between Sanaa and Amman, and preparations are under way to start flights to Cairo, which has been seen as a major step forward in a peace process that has provided rare relief from conflict.

Fighting has “sharply reduced”, the statement said, despite reports of continued clashes and civilian casualties. Grundberg urged the two sides to exercise “maximum restraint”.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies