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.



Sudanese Army Warplanes Drop Barrel Bombs on West Darfur

 Sudanese fleeing violence in West Darfur (Reuters)
Sudanese fleeing violence in West Darfur (Reuters)
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Sudanese Army Warplanes Drop Barrel Bombs on West Darfur

 Sudanese fleeing violence in West Darfur (Reuters)
Sudanese fleeing violence in West Darfur (Reuters)

Sudanese army's warplanes on Sunday dropped barrel bombs on sites in the cities of Nyala and El Daein in the Darfur region, west of the country, killing and injuring a number of civilians, and destroying several public service facilities and residences.
“The coup warplanes and the remnants of the old regime bombed populated areas and committed a new violation,” the Rapid Support Forces said in a statement posted on their X account.
Local sources said the warplanes dropped explosive barrels on homes in El Geneina city in West Darfur, causing major destruction. A woman and four civilians were killed in the airstrike that hit the civilian neighborhood of Al-Naseem.
According to the same sources, the Army targeted areas situated far from the military positions where the RSF are positioned. They added that one of the barrels fell on a cemetery in the city.
Several eyewitnesses also said that the airstrikes destroyed dozens of nearby homes.
On Saturday night, the Sudanese Army warplanes bombed Nyala, the capital of South Darfur.
An RSF statement said the “treacherous army aircraft deliberately destroyed a women’s hospital, the customs building and nearby buildings and the main gas depot, causing major destruction.”
Also, tens of people were killed by random shelling, and significant damage was recorded in a number of residential buildings, the statement said.
“The RSF condemn these acts and practices that constitute war crimes,” it said, stressing that the fight against the remnants of the isolated regime will not stop.
Meanwhile, the Darfur Justice and Peace Initiative, an independent body, said that residents of Nyala and El Geneina, “woke up to the sounds of explosive barrels, which killed and injured a number of civilians, including women and children.”
In a statement, it denounced “the targeting of civilians on ethnic and regional grounds,” stressing that the residents of both cities have nothing to do with the war.
Separately, the Sudanese Army and the RSF exchanged artillery shelling in the city of El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur, amid a massive wave of displacement to other safe areas in light of difficult humanitarian conditions.