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UN Envoy: Commitment to Yemen Truce Is Not the Same as Making Concessions

UN Envoy: Commitment to Yemen Truce Is Not the Same as Making Concessions

Thursday, 23 June, 2022 - 08:00
US and UN envoys at their meeting in Washington (US State Department)

Advocating the temporary truce between the Yemeni government and Houthi insurgents, UN Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg said both sides of the agreement understand that committing to the armistice ultimately benefits the people of Yemen.

In addition to the fact that the armistice is temporary, it is directed at the people of Yemen, not the parties, Grundberg told Asharq Al-Awsat.

When one side fulfills its obligations, it is not a concession to the other party, but it is rather a concession to the people of Yemen, he said, adding that he believes both sides appreciate and understand that.

Moreover, the UN diplomat talked about the multitude of benefits that could be reaped from the Yemeni government and Houthis committing to the truce.

When the parties show commitment, they are also showing trust, he said.

Therefore, it is important to see progress in all the elements of the truce, added Grundberg, referring to the issue of opening the crossings, especially in Taiz.

When asked about the message that he is looking to convey, Grundberg said that there have been unprecedented developments, “and we all have a shared responsibility. We have to make sure that we are aware of that and take advantage of it.”

Everyone has a responsibility to shoulder. Whether it be the parties, the region, the international community.

He told Asharq Al-Awsat that as a representative of the United Nations and the Yemenis themselves can all participate in the journey that started.

The Yemeni truce began in early April and was extended until the beginning of August.

The truce covers four main axes: implementing a comprehensive ceasefire, facilitating the entry of 18 ships carrying fuel to the ports of Hodeidah, allowing two flights to and from Sanaa airport every week and finding an agreement for opening roads in Taiz and other governorates to improve the freedom of movement of people inside Yemen.

However, the Yemeni government and Houthis have failed to find agreement about the routes that should be reopened in Yemen.

While the government insists on reopening Taiz’s al-Hoban highway, Houthis argue that they cannot do so for security reasons.

“We believe that it is the responsibility of the Houthis, and they should implement the truce as there is a very clear humanitarian necessity,” US Envoy Tim Lenderking told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Taiz is the third largest city in Yemen and is divided into two parts.

The people of Taiz live in siege-like conditions. Families are divided, medical services and resources are divided as well, Lenderking told Asharq Al-Awsat, adding that Washington feels strongly about making the opening of these major roads a priority over the next few weeks.

Lenderking also echoed excitement in Washington about President Joe Biden’s anticipated visit to Saudi Arabia.

It is a reflection of the fact that there is a great deal of importance attached to the US-Saudi relationship first and foremost, said the diplomat, predicting that Yemen will be among the topics on Biden’s agenda.

He said Washington appreciates the steps taken by the Saudi government and the Yemeni government to support the truce and implement its provisions.

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