'Moment of hope': UN urges Yemen peace talks on truce anniversary

AFP , Sunday 2 Apr 2023

The United Nations' Yemen envoy warned on Sunday the war-ravaged country faces a "critical time" and urged steps towards lasting peace, exactly a year since a truce has dramatically reduced fighting.

Hans Grundberg
The UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg. Photo: UN


Swedish diplomat Hans Grundberg called the UN-brokered truce that took effect in April 2022 a "moment of hope" and said it was largely holding, despite lapsing in October.

"But the truce's most significant promise is its potential to jumpstart an inclusive political process aimed at comprehensively and sustainably ending the conflict," the UN secretary-general's special envoy said in a statement.

Nearly a decade of war in Yemen has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, both directly and indirectly, and set off one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.

"There are still significant risks," Grundberg said, calling to "protect the gains of the truce and to build on them towards more humanitarian relief, a nationwide ceasefire and a sustainable political settlement that meets the aspirations of Yemeni women and men".

A landmark reconciliation deal announced last month between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the two regional powerhouses that back rival sides in Yemen's war, added to the optimism that started last year with the truce.

Riyadh is leading a military coalition on behalf of the ousted Yemeni government while Tehran backs Houthi rebels, who seized control of the capital in 2014.

Amid renewed deadly fighting and warnings from the rebels, the UN envoy said: "The military, economic and rhetorical escalation of recent weeks is a reminder of the fragility of the truce's achievements."

He urged the government and the Houthis to "sit together and responsibly engage in serious dialogue" that would lead to "a peaceful resolution of the conflict".

Yemen remains deeply fractured along regional, confessional and political lines, and riven with rival factions including Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group.

"At this critical time, any new temporary or partial arrangement needs to include a clear commitment from the parties that ensures it is a step on the course of a peaceful solution... in an inclusive political process," Grundberg said.

"Moments like now are fleeting and precarious," he warned.

"More than ever, now is the time for dialogue, compromises, and a demonstration of leadership and serious will to achieve peace."

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