Yemen truce is first step toward bigger peace deal: UN envoy Grundberg said Friday that a two-month cease-fire in war-torn Yemen that has given the populace a sense of normalcy is the first step toward a broader peace solution.
In an interview with AFP, Swedish diplomat Hans Grundberg said the cease-fire “has delivered some humanitarian respite to the population that is unprecedented in the history of the conflict, and from that point of view, it also provides us with scope and breathing space for engaging on a political settlement.”
“The cease-fire is the first step toward a broader settlement,” he stated on the margins of the Yemen International Forum in Stockholm, which drew Yemeni politicians, specialists, and members from a variety of civil society organizations.
The Yemeni government and the Houthi militia agreed earlier this month to extend a cease-fire that went into force in April and dramatically decreased the intensity of fighting in a conflict described by the UN as the world’s greatest humanitarian disaster.
Hundreds of thousands of people have died as a result of the violence, and millions more are on the verge of starvation.
Since the Houthis, who are backed by Iran, gained control of the capital Sanaa in 2014, the country has been engulfed in strife, prompting a military intervention in support of the beleaguered government the following year.
Commercial flights from Sanaa airport to Amman and Cairo have resumed, and oil tankers have been able to dock in the lifeline port of Hodeida, which is under rebel control, in an attempt to alleviate fuel shortages.
“The truce provides us with steps that normalize life for the Yemeni populace in certain tiny regions, which I believe is both essential and symbolic,” Grundberg said.
“My apparent wish is for this normalization to continue, not only at the airport but on all other issues with which we’re dealing.”
The government has demanded that a condition in the peace deal for the rebels to relieve their siege of Yemen’s third-largest city Taiz be implemented, and the administration has urged that roads to the city be unblocked.
“We’ve been in direct conversations on this problem in Yemen for the previous two weeks,” Grundberg added.
He stated that “steps forward” had been taken, but gave no time range for a possible conclusion.
“We’ve seen both sides come to us with offers, wanting to see a solution to the problem,” she says, “but we haven’t achieved a solution yet.”
“Right now, we’ve got a proposal on the table that I’m hoping will work.”