The United Nations’ envoy to Yemen hopes that a UN-brokered ceasefire in the Arab country would be extended, saying the two-month truce, of which only two weeks are left, has significantly reduced fighting in Yemen.
Hans Grundberg said on Tuesday that the truce between the warring sides in Yemen is holding in military terms and it has had a considerable positive impact on the daily lives of many Yemenis.
“Fighting has sharply reduced with no aerial attacks emanating from Yemen across its borders and no confirmed airstrikes inside Yemen,” he told reporters after a closed briefing to the UN Security Council.
“Front lines across Yemen have quietened down significantly, and there are reports of increasing humanitarian access, including in some frontline locations that had previously been extremely difficult to access,” he said.
Grundberg announced on April 1 that he had secured the truce between the warring sides, seven years after Saudi Arabia and its regional allies launched a devastating military campaign against Yemen in response to the fall of the former, Riyadh-friendly Yemeni regime.
The war has killed hundreds of thousands of people across Yemen and turned the entire country into the scene of what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, but it has failed to re-install the Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi regime.
Since the beginning of the truce, Sana’a has censured Riyadh for repeated violations and warned the kingdom that the Yemeni armed forces will not sit idly in the face of continuous Saudi-led raids on their country.
Despite his positive assessment of the implementation of the truce, Grundberg also acknowledged continued fighting which has led to civilian casualties, saying, “We continue to see concerning reports of continued fighting involving incidents of civilian casualties despite overall reduction.”
He also said the first commercial flight in almost six years took off from Sana’a airport for Jordan’s capital, Amman, on Monday and another flight brought Yemenis back. A second flight to Amman has been scheduled for today.
“This has brought relief to so many Yemenis who have waited too long to travel, many of them for pressing medical reasons, and to pursue business and educational opportunities, or to reunite with loved ones after years of separation,” Grundberg said during the virtual news conference.
“We are working with all involved to ensure the regularization of flights to and from Sana’a airport for the duration of the truce and to find durable mechanisms to keep it open.”
The UN envoy underlined the need to open roads in Taiz and other areas of Yemen, which would greatly ease travel and improve the daily life of the Yemeni people.
“We have gotten positive responses from the parties in order to move forward with that,” he said.
“The promise of the truce to civilians was one of more security, better access to basic goods and services, and improved freedom of movement within, to and from Yemen,” Grundberg said. “Yemenis can’t afford to go back to the pre-truce state of perpetual military escalation and political stalemate.”