CAIRO (AP) – The UN envoy for Yemen has warned that the risk of a resumption of fighting “is real”, urging the warring parties to accept a longer extension of the current ceasefire which is due to expire next month.
Hans Grundberg’s stern warning came on Tuesday evening after he met in the Saudi capital Riyadh with Rashad al-Alimi, head of the internationally recognized presidential council, and in Oman’s capital Muscat with Mohammed Abdul-Salam. the Houthi rebels’ chief negotiator. . He also met with Saudi and Omani officials to ask for an extension of the ceasefire.
Grundberg, who was in Yemen’s capital Sanaa on Wednesday for further talks with the Houthis, said in a statement that he had discussed a UN proposal to renew the truce for a longer period. “to give Yemenis the opportunity to make progress on a broader basket of priorities.” .”
“We are at a crossroads where the risk of a return to war is real and I urge the parties to choose an alternative that puts the needs of the Yemeni people first,” he said.
Efforts to renew the ceasefire came as the two sides held military parades in territories under their control. The internationally recognized government held parades on the anniversary of the 1962 uprising against the Imamate regime in northern Yemen.
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The most notable parade was organized by the Houthis last week in the capital of Sanaa, where they displayed a variety of weapons – including missiles and drones – which resemble those produced by Iran, their main support in war. The Houthi parades were a celebration of their capture of the capital Sanaa in September 2014, which sparked the current civil war.
The UN envoy did not provide details of his proposal.
Nabil Jamel, a government negotiator, said the UN proposal includes ways to pay civil servants in Houthi-held territories and reopen roads in blocked towns, including Taiz. He did not specify.
The reopening of roads in Taiz and other provinces is part of the UN-brokered truce, which came into effect in early April and was extended twice, the second time until October 2. Both sides have reported ceasefire violations. The truce established a partial reopening of Sanaa airport to commercial flights and allowed fuel vessels into the port of Hodeidah.
Abdul-Salam, the Houthi official in Oman, called for a permanent opening of Sanaa airport and the Red Sea ports in Hodeidah, as well as the payment of salaries and pensions, before embarking on any political talks.
“There is no seriousness or credibility for any discussion of peace in Yemen before the implementation of these urgent humanitarian issues,” he said on Twitter.
The truce was the longest lull in fighting in Yemen’s war, now in its eighth year. Although both sides have reported violations, the ceasefire has brought relief to Yemenis who have suffered from a decade of political turmoil and military conflict.
In addition to direct combat, landmines and other explosive remnants continue to kill civilians in Hodeidah. Earlier this week, the UN said at least 15 people, including children, had been killed or injured in the past week in the disputed city, bringing the toll to more than 100 dead and 141 injured since November. .
Yemen’s brutal civil war began in 2014, when the Houthis seized Sanaa and much of northern Yemen and forced the government into exile. A Saudi-led coalition went to war in early 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognized government to power.
The conflict has created one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises and has escalated over the years into a regional proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. More than 150,000 people were killed, including more than 14,500 civilians.