UN envoy’s ‘relentless efforts' to revive Yemen’s fragile truce
After six months, the truce expired last night. The Houthi oppose the UN special envoy's plan and make threats against Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Yemen’s internationally recognised government calls on the UN Security Council to act “firmly” against the "threats" from pro-Iranian rebels.
Sana'a (AsiaNews) – For the UN special envoy to Yemen Hans Grundberg, the race against time is on to breathe new life in the truce between Houthi rebels and the government. The expired yesterday evening after six months of uncertain and fragile implementation.
If diplomacy fails, fighting might resume, especially since the leaders of the pro-Iranian movement that controls the capital Sana'a and part of the country have already begun to issue threats against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The head of UN diplomacy in the Arab country Hans Grundberg has promised “relentless efforts” to boost the truce, which, despite many difficulties, has led to substantially fewer clashes and casualties, including civilians.
On 2 August, Houthi representatives and Yemen’s internationally recognised government extended the truce by two months (which had begun on 2 April) to 2 October, effectively sanctioning the longest period of non-fighting since the beginning of the war.
The conflict broke out in 2014 as local groups began fighting each other, and escalated into open war following the intervention, in March 2015, of Saudi Arabia at the head of a coalition of Arab countries. The net result so far has been almost 400,000 victims.
According to the UN, the crisis has caused the “worst humanitarian crisis in the world”, compounded by COVID-19, which has had “devastating” effects; millions of people are on the brink of starvation while children, 10,000 of whom died in the conflict, will suffer the consequences for decades.
More than three million Yemenis are internally displaced, most living in conditions of extreme poverty, hunger and epidemics of various kinds, not least cholera.
Grundberg's plan to extend the truce met with strong opposition from the Houthis.
It provides paying civil servants’ salaries, opening routes to the city of Taez, expanding commercial flights from the capital and allowing more fuel ships to dock at the port of Hodeida, also under rebel control.
The plan also proposes to release detainees, resume an "inclusive" political process and address economic issues, including public services.
For the Houthis, however, it “does not live up to the demands of the Yemeni people and does not establish peace process.”
"The Yemeni people will not be deceived by false promises," the Supreme Political Council said, demanding revenues from Yemen's oil and gas resources.
So far, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have not issued any statements, but Yemen’s internationally recognised government urged the UN Security Council to deal "firmly" with the Houthis over their "latest threats" and refusal to extend the truce.
With respect to the latest developments, Grundberg, who shuttles between Sana'a and Oman (which is acting as a mediator), said that he would “continue to work with both sides to try and find solutions".