Extension of ceasefire in Yemen one day before end date on balance sheet


No breakthrough in UN-backed talks despite a two-month truce that provided much-needed breathing room for Yemeni civilians.

Questions loom over the fate of a fragile truce between Yemen’s government and the Houthi rebels that expires in a day, with aid groups and Western governments urging warring parties to extend it.

Yemen has been in the throes of war since the Iran-affiliated Houthis took over the capital Sanaa in 2014 and eventually forced the government to flee. In 2015, a Saudi Arabia-led military intervention in support of the government followed.

The deadly war has led to the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, according to the United Nations.

A two-month truce was agreed in early April, marking a rare moment of relative calm for Yemenis. The UN has said the ceasefire has significantly reduced the intensity of fighting in the country.

But as the ceasefire ends on June 2, there are still no signs of a breakthrough in the UN-backed talks between the government and the Houthis.

The Houthis have said they are considering extending the ceasefire. On Tuesday, however, the United States warned that the negotiations were “difficult” as it pushed for an extension to help support millions of people at risk.

Discussions about extending the truce “have not ended yet, but seem to be getting a bit of trouble,” said US ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

A key point in the negotiations was to end the Houthi Siege of largely government-owned Taiz, the country’s third-largest city.

While a provision for the Houthis to open routes to Taiz is a central part of the truce, it has not yet been implemented, much to the anger of both the government and the local population, who have staged several protests demanding that the siege be ended. cancelled.

Taiz has been largely cut off from the rest of the government-run area since 2015, with all supplies coming in via a single winding road through the mountains, increasing travel times by several hours.

The head of Yemen’s presidential leadership council, Rashad al-Alimi, discussed the implementation of the ceasefire with UN chief Antonio Guterres by telephone on Tuesday. He urged Guterres to “double the pressure on the Houthi militia to abide by its ceasefire commitments, including opening roads to Taiz,” the official Saba news agency reported.

In recent weeks, the UN envoy to Yemen, Hans Grundberg, has stepped up his efforts to renew the ceasefire. He tweeted Monday that an extension was “critical to consolidate the benefits delivered thus far and provide room for moving towards a political settlement”.

His appeal was followed by the charity Oxfam and more than three dozen other aid organizations, who in a joint statement stressed that “the gift of a better life for the people of Yemen is in your hands”.

One of the key signs that the ceasefire was lasting and effective came on May 16, when the first commercial flight in six years departed from Sanaa to Amman with 126 passengers on board, including critically ill hospitalized patients and their relatives. Since then, five more flights have flown from Sanaa airport to the Jordanian capital, while a seventh departed for Cairo, Egypt on Wednesday, with at least 77 people on board, news agencies reported.

Air traffic to the rebel-controlled capital has been largely halted since 2016 by a Saudi Arabia-led blockade, but there are waivers for relief flights that are an important lifeline for the population.

The ceasefire has also led to the docking of oil tankers in the rebel-controlled port of Hodeidah, potentially reducing fuel shortages in Sanaa and elsewhere.

The war in Yemen has killed more than 150,000 people and displaced millions of civilians, according to the UN.

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