UN Envoy: Houthis Rejected Updated Proposal to Reopen Routes to Taiz

UN special envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg speaks to reporters upon his arrival at Sanaa Airport, in Sanaa, Yemen, 08 June 2022. (EPA)
UN special envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg speaks to reporters upon his arrival at Sanaa Airport, in Sanaa, Yemen, 08 June 2022. (EPA)
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UN Envoy: Houthis Rejected Updated Proposal to Reopen Routes to Taiz

UN special envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg speaks to reporters upon his arrival at Sanaa Airport, in Sanaa, Yemen, 08 June 2022. (EPA)
UN special envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg speaks to reporters upon his arrival at Sanaa Airport, in Sanaa, Yemen, 08 June 2022. (EPA)

The UN special envoy for Yemen said Monday he plans to explore the possibility of a longer and expanded truce with the country’s warring parties in the coming weeks.

Hans Grundberg said an extension could be a good step in moving toward a ceasefire in the country’s eight-year war. He didn’t provide details of the length or expansion he is seeking ahead of the Aug. 2 expiration of the current two-month truce extension.

Grundberg told the UN Security Council that renewing the truce would provide time and the opportunity to start serious discussions on Yemen's economy and security and to begin addressing priority issues such as revenues and payment of salaries.

"I ask the parties to engage with me on these issues with a sense of urgency and flexibility," he said.

The ceasefire between Yemen’s legitimate government and Iran-backed Houthi militias initially took effect April 2 and was extended on June 2. Though each side at times accused the other of violating the truce, it was the first nationwide halt in fighting in the past six years of the conflict.

"To date, the truce has been holding for over three months," Grundberg said.

Civilian casualties have been reduced by two-thirds, compared to the three months before the truce began, he said. And since the renewal of the truce June 2, seven fuel ships carrying nearly 200,000 metric tons of various fuel products have been cleared to enter Yemen’s main port of Hodeidah.

Since the start of the truce, 15 commercial round-trip flights have transported almost 7,000 passengers between Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, and the Jordanian capital, Amman, Grundberg added. He said discussions are under way with Egyptian authorities about regular flights to Cairo.

Under the truce, the parties committed to meet to agree on road openings, including lifting the Houthis' ground blockade of Taiz, Yemen’s third largest city. Grundberg said the Houthis rejected the latest UN updated proposal on a phased opening but his efforts to reach a solution will continue.

"An agreement on road openings in Taiz and other governorates would be momentous, and its benefits would reverberate across Yemen," he said.

The UN envoy expressed concern at "worrisome escalatory rhetoric by the parties questioning the benefits of the truce" in recent weeks.

He called this "a dangerous move," urged the parties to halt such rhetoric, and warned that the alternative to the truce "is a return to hostilities and likely an intensified phase of conflict with all of its predictable consequences or Yemeni civilians and regional security."

Grundberg said the UN continues to receive reports from both sides about alleged incidents including direct and indirect fire, drone attacks, reconnaissance overflights and new fortifications.

"The parties are also allegedly sending reinforcements to main front lines including in Marib, Hodeidah and Taiz," he said.

Joyce Msuya , assistant secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, told the council that the Yemeni rial is still falling and "many more families are going hungry again."

But she said the UN World Food Program was forced to cut rations for millions of people several weeks ago because the UN appeal for $4.27 billion for humanitarian aid for Yemen this year has received just over $1.1 billion.

In addition, Msuya said, a UN verification and inspection system created in 2016 to facilitate vital commercial imports to Yemen is also running out of money and will shut down in September unless it gets $3.5 million to cover operations for the year's final months.



US Military Pier Operations in Gaza Suspended after Piece Breaks Off

US Navy personnel construct a JLOTS, which stands for "Joint Logistics Over-the Shore" temporary pier which will provide a ship-to-shore distribution system to help deliver humanitarian aid into Gaza, in an undated handout picture in the Mediterranean Sea. (US Central Command/Handout via Reuters/File Photo)
US Navy personnel construct a JLOTS, which stands for "Joint Logistics Over-the Shore" temporary pier which will provide a ship-to-shore distribution system to help deliver humanitarian aid into Gaza, in an undated handout picture in the Mediterranean Sea. (US Central Command/Handout via Reuters/File Photo)
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US Military Pier Operations in Gaza Suspended after Piece Breaks Off

US Navy personnel construct a JLOTS, which stands for "Joint Logistics Over-the Shore" temporary pier which will provide a ship-to-shore distribution system to help deliver humanitarian aid into Gaza, in an undated handout picture in the Mediterranean Sea. (US Central Command/Handout via Reuters/File Photo)
US Navy personnel construct a JLOTS, which stands for "Joint Logistics Over-the Shore" temporary pier which will provide a ship-to-shore distribution system to help deliver humanitarian aid into Gaza, in an undated handout picture in the Mediterranean Sea. (US Central Command/Handout via Reuters/File Photo)

A part of the US military's pier off Gaza has broken off, rendering it temporarily inoperable, two US officials said, in the latest blow to efforts to deliver humanitarian aid to Palestinians.

The US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said bad weather was believed to be the reason that the part had broken off. They did not say how big the part was or speculate on how long it would take for the pier to resume operations.

The pier was announced by US President Joe Biden in March and involved the military assembling the floating structure off the coast. Estimated to cost $320 million for the first 90 days and involve about 1,000 US service members, it went into operation two weeks ago.

Since the pier began operations, the United Nations has transported 137 trucks of aid from the pier - the equivalent of 900 metric tons - said a UN World Food Program (WFP) spokesperson.