Ceasefire in Yemen, but full measures still not in effect

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Ambassadors were briefed by two top UN officials who provided an update on the impact of the agreement between the government and the Houthi rebels, which was recently extended for another two months, while also outlining remaining challenges.

“The ceasefire in Yemen has now been going on for two and a half months, something that had never happened before during this war and something that seemed unimaginable at the beginning of this year,” said Hans Grundberg, UN special envoy to the country, praising the sides .

Reduction of fighting

There have been no confirmed airstrikes in Yemen or cross-border attacks from the country since the ceasefire was first announced in April. The number of civilian casualties has also “declined significantly,” he reported.

However, the number of casualties from landmines and unexploded ordnance is increasing as people venture into contaminated frontline areas that were previously inaccessible.

Despite the overall reduction in fighting, the UN also continues to receive reports of alleged violations by both sides, including shelling, drone strikes, reconnaissance flights and the redeployment of troops.

Some armed clashes have also been reported, mainly in Ma’rib, Taiz and Hodeidah governorates.

A military coordination committee, made up of representatives from both parties and coalition forces supporting the government, will meet monthly to address issues in a timely manner.

Flights and fuel

After six years of closure, commercial flights have started from the airport in the capital Sana’a to Amman, Jordan and Cairo, Egypt. Fuel also continued to flow steadily through the crucial port at Hodeidah.

More than 480,000 tons of fuel was cleared through the port in April and May – more than the amount that came in in all of 2021.

“The steady supply of fuel has relieved pressure on vital services, significantly reduced the queues at gas stations that dominated the streets of Sana’a, and made it easier for Yemenis to travel across the country,” said Mr. Grundberg.

A critical open issue is the opening of roads to Taiz and other governorates. The roads currently open are “long and difficult,” he said, recalling a six-hour journey from Aden to the city of Taiz that would have taken half the time prior to the seven-year conflict between the Houthi rebels and the internationally recognized government.

Roadworks ahead

After meeting with both sides in Amman, the UN envoy presented a proposal on the phased reopening of roads, which also includes an implementation mechanism and commitments to the safety of civilian travelers. He has received a “positive response” from the government and is awaiting a response from the Houthis, known officially as the Ansar Allah movement.

Mr Grundberg warned that: recent weeks have exposed the fragility of the ceasefire, and delaying its full implementation could unravel the deal.

“Recourse to transactionalism, threatening to condition implementation of one element of the truce against another, and using escalating media rhetoric undermines the truce. It is ultimately up to the parties to protect the ceasefire and fulfill the promise in favor of Yemenis,” he said.

The implementation has also led to “more controversial issues with political implications”, for example around revenue management, civil sector salary payments, travel documents and a more sustainable ceasefire.

‘A rare opportunity’

Mr Grundberg told the Council that he will make progress on two fronts in the coming weeks. It will work with the parties for the full implementation of the ceasefire and for more sustainable solutions to the country’s pressing economic and security issues, underlining the Council’s continued support.

“However, it is ultimately up to the parties to seize this opportunity, negotiate in good faith and make the necessary compromises in favor of Yemen as a whole. The truce offers a rare opportunity to turn around a peace that must not be lost,” he said.

Humanitarian needs are increasing

Ghada Mudawi, a senior official in the UN’s humanitarian wing, OCHA, also urged the Council to address urgent needs in a country where 19 million people are starving, with more than 160,000 on the brink of famine .

“The humanitarian crisis in Yemen is as serious today as it was before the ceasefire. In reality, the crisis could worsen quickly† Allowing this would run counter to the momentum generated by the ceasefire and could undermine prospects for further progress,” she said.

Yemenis are being pressured by rising food prices as a result of Russia’s war in Ukraine, and the currency’s depreciation has exacerbated the situation, while huge gaps remain in services such as water, health care and education. More than four million Yeminis have been uprooted, including more than 7,000 who have fled in the past two months.

“Displacement during the armistice was mainly due to: people looking for work and sufficient food† Despite the ceasefire, people also fled because of clashes in some areas. We hope that the extended ceasefire will bring a more comprehensive end to the fighting, including any local clashes,” said Ms Mudawi, acting director of OCHA’s Operations and Advocacy Division.

United Nations

Ghada Eltahir Mudawi, Deputy Director of Operations of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs,

Restrictions for first responders

At the same time, aid organizations in Yemen also face access restrictions. There have been even more restrictions on their movements in recent months, mainly due to regulations issued by local authorities in various areas.

Insecurity is another concern for humanitarians as attempted carjackings, kidnappings and other attacks are on the rise, sometimes forcing them to suspend their activities. The UN has called for the immediate release of two personnel arrested and detained in November in Houthis-controlled Sana’a and five personnel abducted in February in Abyan governorate.

Amid these challenges, humanitarians continue to provide aid up to 11 million people in Yemen a month, but a UN response plan is currently underfunded – another major threat that has led to a cut in food aid and cuts in many critical programs.

Later this month, Sweden and the European Commission will organize a meeting to discuss the humanitarian challenges in Yemen, a move that Ms Mudawi welcomed to the Council.





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