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Yemen Calls for Int’l Pressure on Houthis to End Taiz Siege

Yemen Calls for Int’l Pressure on Houthis to End Taiz Siege

Wednesday, 17 August, 2022 - 05:30
United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg (R) is displayed on a screen as he attends remotely a Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East at the United Nations headquarters in New York City on August 15, 2022. (AFP)

The legitimate government in Yemen reiterated its call on the international community to pressure the Iran-backed Houthi militias to join in good faith efforts to achieve peace in the war-torn country.

United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg acknowledged before the Security Council that no progress has been reached in reopening routes to the Houthi-besieged city of Taiz.

In a briefing before the council on Monday, he said: “Road openings in Taiz and other governorates continue to be at the forefront of my efforts. My Office has recently spent time on both sides of the frontline in Taiz, where they engaged with local authorities, as well as with local mediators and civil society organizations.”

“Several proposals with different sets of roads and sequencing options have been presented to the parties. It is regrettable that, despite these efforts, there has not been more progress achieved on road openings to date,” he added.

“For the sake of the people of Taiz, the wider population and the economy, the parties need to agree on opening roads as soon as possible,” he urged.

“Road openings are mainly a humanitarian issue, and the truce provides a conducive environment for the parties to swiftly deliver on this issue, as they have done with other elements of the truce that are improving the humanitarian situation,” he stressed.

“The people of Taiz and across Yemen deserve for the truce to deliver for them in all its aspects,” said the envoy.

Grundberg remarked that two weeks ago, the warring parties agreed to extend the truce in Yemen under the same terms for another two months, until October 2.

“I commend the parties for taking this step, which allows for the longest pause in fighting since the war began to continue. It also allows for the benefits of the humanitarian and economic measures in the truce agreement to unfold,” he said.

“Along with the truce extension, the parties committed themselves to using the next two months to continue negotiations to reach an expanded truce agreement by October 2,” he revealed.

“An expanded agreement will include additional elements that have the potential of further improving the daily lives of Yemeni men and women. It would also allow for further steps towards ending the conflict,” he noted.

“As I work with the parties to achieve this goal, we all need to remind ourselves that failure to reach an agreement to extend the truce would lead to renewed cycles of escalation and violence, with predictable and devastating consequences for Yemen’s population,” he warned.

“Yemen urgently needs avoid this scenario. And I call on the parties to make the choice to build the necessary confidence to avoid a return to war and to begin to build a lasting peace.,” he urged.

“Four and a half months in, the truce continues to broadly hold in military terms. No major military operations or changes to frontlines have occurred and there have been neither confirmed airstrikes inside Yemen nor cross-border attacks emanating from Yemen,” noted Grundberg.

The Military Coordination Committee (MCC) is an important outcome of the truce, he went on to say.

“Maintaining this channel is of the utmost importance,” he added.

The fourth meeting of the MCC is expected to take place during the last week of August in Amman, Jordan.

The parties have agreed to also meet as part of a technical working group to establish a Joint Coordination Room, which would support the MCC by managing incidents through de-escalation at the operational level, explained the envoy.

In wake of his briefing, Yemen's permanent ambassador to the Security Council Abdullah al-Saadi called on the council and international community to reassess their approach towards the Houthis.

He called on them to pressure the militias to join the peace process and prevent the exploitation of the truce to amass more forces and prepare for a new round of escalation.

The Houthis must be pressured to commit to their pledges in reopening the routes to Taiz and other cities, demanded the envoy.

“The siege by Iran-supported Houthi militias on Taiz is in its eighth year — amounting to a war crime — circumventing the truce, refusing to open main roads leading to civilians, including women and children, losing their lives,” he remarked.

“The militias are not serious about ending the situation threatening 4 million people in Taiz, preventing humanitarian assistance and goods, including the deliberate killing of children there in the hours before the extension of the truce,” he continued.

“Militias target civilians with snipers, drones and missiles, including under the truce, and will continue to violate the truce without being held accountable.”

How many civilians must die before the war is ended and their crimes are held accountable, he asked.

The militias have proven they are not serious and thwart peace, reneging on truce commitments — with 50 daily violations, leading to the death of 187 people and injuring 910 others, revealed al-Saadi.

The militias are undermining de-escalation and peace, laying siege to cities and looting incomes, using the military dossier as a bargaining chip leading to blackmail. The Yemeni people suffer under a grave situation at all levels, with dialogue remaining the best way to end conflict. The Houthis must refrain from war and escalation to save the people from further suffering, he stressed.

He noted the government has facilitated 29 round trip flights from and to Sanaa, transporting more than 13,000 travelers, despite stumbling blocks imposed by militias, as well as 34 ships transporting over 900 metric tons of fuel through Hodeidah port.

While the taxes and custom fees were enough to pay civil servants and pensions in areas controlled by Houthis, the militias collected them and deprived employees’ salaries, using that income to fund their war, said the ambassador.

The government has renewed its commitment to comprehensive and sustainable peace, based on the Gulf Cooperation Council Initiative and outcomes of national dialogue and Council resolution 2216. It will continue to build towards a comprehensive ceasefire to end the conflict and alleviate the humanitarian crisis, vowed al-Saadi.

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