Despite the obstacles put by the Houthi militias, the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, said Thursday that he has intensified his engagements with the parties to support the implementation of all elements of the truce, and to explore possibilities for an expanded and extended truce beyond August 2.
“An extended and expanded truce will increase the benefits to the Yemeni people. It will also provide a platform to build more confidence between the parties and start serious discussions on economic priorities, particularly on revenues and salaries, as well as security priorities, including a ceasefire. Ultimately, the aim is to move toward a political settlement that comprehensively ends the conflict”, Grundberg said in a statement released by his office, which is based in the Jordanian capital.
Grundberg noted that the truce has largely held for almost four months, marking the longest period of relative calm in more than seven years.
Both sides have nevertheless raised concerns about alleged violations and incidents across multiple frontlines.
“The warring parties have obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians. I take reports of military escalation very seriously, especially when it involves civilian casualties,” he said.
The envoy added that his office is working through the Military Coordination Committee to facilitate dialogue and support de-escalation.
“I hope the parties will continue their work under the committee and establish the joint coordination room to address incidents in a timely manner.”
On the failure to reach an agreement to end the siege of Taiz and open roads amid the intransigence of Houthis, the envoy said: “At the outset of the negotiations, both parties put forward proposals to open roads in Taiz and other governorates, a positive sign of their willingness to engage in the talks.”
He reiterated that the latest UN proposal included three roads put forward by the Houthis and one advocated for by civil society. The Yemeni government accepted this proposal but the militias did not. “Recently, the parties have also announced their intention to open some roads unilaterally.”
“Unilateral actions alone are not enough to ensure the safe and sustainable passage of civilians along roads that cross frontlines under the control of different parties, said. Grundberg. “The parties need to negotiate, coordinate and communicate with each other.”
He stressed that he will not stop pursuing his efforts to bring the parties closer together to reach agreement to safely open key roads in Taiz and other governorates.
"This will remain a priority for this truce period and any future extension of it.”
As part of the truce, the parties agreed to two commercial flights per week between Sanaa, Amman and Cairo, amounting to 36 flights total during the four-month period. 20 round trip flights so far have been operated between Sanaa and Amman and one roundtrip flight between Sanaa and Cairo carrying in total over 8,000 passengers.
He said his office is exploring options for connecting Sanaa airport with more destinations as a possible part of an extended truce beyond August 2.
The truce stipulated that 36 fuel ships should enter Hodeidah during the four-month period. So far, between April 2 and July 21, 26 fuel ships have entered the port carrying 720,270 metric tons of fuel derivatives. More fuel ships are under process.
During 2021, 23 fuel ships carrying less than 470,000 metric tons entered the port.
"As global fuel prices are on the rise, it is more important than ever to ensure a smooth flow of fuel to support essential services,” said Grundberg. “A renewal of the truce would see regular and timely entry of fuel ships."
“Moving away from seven years of war to a state of relative calm will not be without challenges, and there have been some shortcomings in fully implementing the elements of the truce. Nevertheless, the truce has been transformational for Yemen,” the statement quoted him as saying.
The truce has made a tangible difference to the lives of the Yemeni people, who along with the international community want and expect the truce to be fully implemented, renewed and strengthened, he said.
He also hoped the parties will engage constructively with his efforts and recognize the gains that an extended and expanded truce can deliver to the Yemeni people. “They must rise to the occasion and not miss this opportunity", Grundberg said.