The first nationwide ceasefire in six years coincided with the start of the holy month of Ramadan and includes provisions to improve the freedom of movement of civilians and goods in the war-torn Arab country.
‘Turning point to peace’
The UN envoy saw the move as “a moment” of reprieve and opportunity to pursue peace.
He noted that “continued commitment” is required from the Saudi Arabia-led coalition supporting the internationally recognized government, the Houthi opposition forces, the region as a whole and the international community to ensure it stands firm and “turns a turning point.” towards peace”. †
Since the start of the ceasefire on April 4, he pointed to “encouraging signs” such as significant reductions in violence and civilian casualties; no confirmed air strikes; more fuel flowing through the ports of the Hudaydah region; and preparations for commercial flights from Sana’a airport – controlled by the Houthis – for the first time since 2016.
However, reports of military operations around Marib must be addressed through the ceasefire mechanisms – otherwise they risk paving the way for another escalation.
“I would like to remind the parties that the fundamental principle of the truce is that the respite it provides should be used to make progress towards ending the war, not to escalate it,” said Mr. Grundberg.
†The parties have publicly committed to de-escalation, and this is what the Yemeni people and the international community expect from them†
Benefits of Agreement
Easing restrictions on the movement of goods and civilians is a priority for the ceasefire.
“Flights to and from Sana’a airport should be resumed and we are working with partners to make this happen as soon as possible,” the UN envoy said.
Another priority is an agreement to open roads in heavily disputed Taiz.
†It is imperative that serious work is done in Taiz to open roadsenabling citizens on both sides of the front lines, both in the city and surrounding areas, to go to work and school and facilitate trade.”
He pointed out that the ceasefire — a result of the parties’ commitments and “prolonged and tireless efforts” by Yemeni civil society actors, youth groups and women peace activists to end the war —it is still fragile and temporary†
“We need to work collectively and intensively … to make sure it doesn’t unravel,” the UN official said, pledging to continue engaging the parties to implement, strengthen and expand it.
He explained that during his recent visit to Muscat and Sana’a, the Houthi-held capital, he received “reaffirmed commitment to all aspects of the ceasefire implementation” while discussing next steps to strengthen it. and expand.
‘Pivot’ to Peace
The fragile deal offers a “rare opportunity to turn towards a peaceful future”Grundberg said, describing the coming weeks as “a test of the parties’ commitments to fulfill their obligations”, and to build trust and confidence.
Yemen will need the support of the international community as much as ever to find an inclusive, peaceful and lasting end to the conflict.
“I will need your redoubled efforts and support during this critical period,” he said.
hope for tomorrow
UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths said recent progress is helping to “pave the way” for a brighter future.
Fewer civilian casualties, more fuel ships arriving in Hudaydah and the ceasefire are all positive stepshe said.
In addition, he cited a recently announced $3 billion economic aid package that includes fuel and development aid, as well as a new $2 billion deposit in Yemen’s central bank — provided jointly by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — to help the currency stabilize.
“Since this announcement, the rial has already recovered 25 percent of its value,” the senior UN official explained.
This means that food and other essential goods – almost all of which must be imported – should soon become more affordable.
Efforts are also being made to reduce the threat of the FSO Safer, which has been in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen since 2015.
Mr Griffiths, who is also the head of humanitarian affairs, explained that if about $80 million can be raised, a new UN proposal could come into effect in May to unload oil from the precarious tanker onto a temporary vessel before the tanker is replaced. safer.
Millions struggle to stay alive
In the meantime, humanitarian aid is needed today to keep millions alive†
The UN chief of humanitarian aid said aid agencies are asking for $4.3 billion this year to help 17.3 million people across the country.
He noted that while an event on March 16 raised $1.3 billion in pledges — well below what was requested — more is urgently needed.
“Financing remains the biggest challenge,” emphasized Mr Griffiths, stressing that food, water, health care and support for IDPs will continue to shrink and eventually stop if they don’t get the money they need.
†Allowing the aid operation to collapse would go directly against the positive momentum we see in wider efforts to resolve the crisis in Yemen†
Despite aid limitations, including access problems and attempts at interference, there have also been some improvements, the aid coordinator said.
He drew attention to a new agreement with local security forces on the west coast facilitating humanitarian movements through the Dhubab checkpoint, describing it as “a long-standing objective” and an analysis of humanitarian needs by 2022 based on new data collected. from all 333 districts around the world. country.
“We also appreciate the close working relationship we have with donors and other stakeholders on access issues, which remains a top priority,” added Mr Griffiths.
However, the humanitarian chief recalled that five months after the Houthi authorities detained two UN personnel in Sana’a, they are still in custody.
And five other staff members who were kidnapped by gunmen in Abyan in February have been forcibly detained for more than 60 days.
“Incidents like this are completely unacceptable and the staff should be released,” he stressed.