The UN chief is strongly urging Yemen’s warring parties to not only renew but expand a truce that expires Sunday, saying it has brought the longest period of relative calm since the conflict began in 2014.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Friday that the legitimate government and Iran-backed Houthi militias should prioritize the national interests of the Yemeni people and “choose peace for good.”
His statement followed a stark warning Tuesday from the UN envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, that the risk of a return to fighting “is real.”
Both sides accepted the UN-brokered truce for two months at the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on April 2. It has been extended twice, and Grundberg and the secretary-general have been pushing both sides for a longer extension to try to start negotiations toward ending the conflict.
“Over the past six months,” Guterres said, “the government of Yemen and the Houthis have taken important and bold steps towards peace by agreeing to, and twice renewing, a nationwide truce negotiated by the United Nations.”
With the Sunday deadline looming, Guterres strongly urged the parties to expand the duration and terms of the truce in line with a proposal presented by Grundberg that has not been made public.
Nabil Jamel, a government negotiator, said the UN proposal includes ways to pay civil servants in Houthi-held territories and reopen roads of blockaded cities, including Taiz.