Yemen's warring parties renew truce: UN

·2-min read

Yemen's warring sides have agreed to renew a two-month truce, despite international pressure for an extended and expanded deal that would build on the longest stretch of relative calm in more than seven years.

"This truce extension includes a commitment from the parties to intensify negotiations to reach an expanded truce agreement as soon as possible," the United Nations' special envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg said in a statement.

Grundberg had been pushing for a six-month truce with additional measures, sources told Reuters, but both sides have had grievances about the implementation of the existing deal agreed in April, and mistrust runs deep.

US and Omani officials had also been engaging with parties to back Grundberg's proposal following a visit by President Joe Biden to Saudi Arabia last month, where he announced an agreement to "deepen and extend" the truce.

"We urge the Yemeni parties to seize this opportunity to work constructively under UN auspices to reach an inclusive, comprehensive agreement that includes steps to improve freedom of movement and expanded salary payments and that paves the way for a durable, Yemeni-led resolution to the conflict," Biden said.

The conflict, pitting a coalition led by Saudi Arabia against the Iran-aligned Houthis - the de facto authorities in north Yemen - has killed tens of thousands and caused millions to go hungry.

Riyadh has been trying to exit a costly war that has been a point of tension with the Biden administration, which halted support for offensive coalition operations.

The conflict is widely seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The Saudi foreign ministry said on Wednesday the truce primarily aimed to establish a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire and "start the political process" between the internationally recognised government and the Houthis.

It urged the movement to comply with terms regarding port revenues and to swiftly reopen roads in disputed Taiz, which are effectively under Houthi siege.

Both parties have been frustrated over truce implementation.

Grundberg said an expanded truce would offer a mechanism to pay public sector salaries, the opening of roads, more flights from the capital Sanaa and regular flow of fuel to Hodeidah.

The UN is also pushing for a permanent ceasefire to enable the resumption of talks for a sustainable political resolution.

Sanaa resident Sufian al-Thawr said that without further measures to address economic woes and secure broader negotiations the truce would be "merely a warrior's break" and that hostilities would return.

Since 2015, when the coalition intervened against the Houthis, Yemen's economy and basic services have collapsed, leaving 80 per cent of the population of around 30 million needing help.

Soaring food prices risk tipping more people into hunger as funding shortages have forced the UN to cut food rations.

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