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UN envoy: Talks underway to extend 2-month ceasefire in Yemen
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UNITED NATIONS – With just two weeks left of a two-month ceasefire in Yemen, the UN envoy to the war-torn country said on Tuesday that talks with the government and Houthi rebels were continuing at the moment and he hopes the truce will be widened.

But Hans Grundberg was wary of any predictions, saying an agreement on an extension would depend on talks he and his office have with warring parties.

“Over the past six weeks, we have seen a tremendous positive impact on the daily lives of many Yemenis,” he told reporters after a closed-door briefing before the UN Security Council. “First, and most importantly, the truce holds militarily.”

The two-month truce is the first nationwide ceasefire in six years in Yemen’s civil war, which erupted in 2014. That year, the Iran-backed Houthis seized the capital, Sanaa , and forced the internationally recognized government into exile. A Saudi-led coalition went to war in early 2015 to try to restore the government to power.

The conflict has created one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises while becoming a regional proxy war in recent years. More than 150,000 people were killed, including more than 14,500 civilians.

Since the truce, Grundberg said, “the fighting has declined sharply with no air attacks emanating from Yemen across its borders and no confirmed airstrikes inside Yemen.”

“Frontlines across Yemen have calmed down considerably, and there are reports of increased humanitarian access, including in some frontline locations that were previously extremely difficult to access,” he said. he said during the virtual press conference.

“However, we continue to receive reports of continued fighting involving incidents with civilian casualties despite an overall reduction,” the UN envoy said, highlighting the violence in the southern province of Dhale and the southern town of Taiz, which is partially held by forces loyal to the army. government and has been blocked by the Houthis for years.

Among other welcome developments, Grundberg said, the first commercial flight in nearly six years took off from Sanaa airport for the Jordanian capital, Amman, on Monday and another flight brought back Yemenis. A second flight to Amman is scheduled for Wednesday.

“It has brought relief to so many Yemenis who have waited too long to travel, many for pressing medical reasons, and to pursue business and educational opportunities, or to reunite with loved ones after years of separation,” Grundberg said. “We are working with all parties involved to ensure the regularization of flights to and from Sanaa airport for the duration of the truce and to find sustainable mechanisms to keep it open.”

He said the Yemeni government’s permission for 11 tankers to enter the country’s main port, Hodeidah, means more fuel deliveries than in the six months before the truce. Yemen depends on imported food and basic supplies, but said that since the truce, the fuel crisis that threatened civilians’ access to basic goods and services in Sanaa and surrounding areas “has largely appeased”.

Grundberg said the priority now was to implement the truce agreement’s commitment to open roads in Taiz and other parts of Yemen, which would greatly facilitate travel and improve daily life, including understood the job.

“We got positive responses from the parties in order to move forward,” he said.

The government has named its delegation to a UN meeting on opening the roads and Grundberg said that as soon as the Houthis name their delegation, the UN will organize the discussion in Amman.

“The promise of the truce to civilians was one of greater security, better access to basic goods and services, and better freedom of movement within, to and from Yemen,” Grundberg said. “Yemenis cannot afford to return to the pre-truce state of perpetual military escalation and political stalemate.”

The UN special representative said he was working not only to extend the truce, but also to start talks on many issues so that the government, the Houthis and other Yemenis can address critical issues and reach a political settlement of the war.

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