Roundup: Yemen truce persists: UN special envoy

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UNITED NATIONS, June 14 (Xinhua) -- The Yemen truce has so far contributed to a reduction in fighting and other positive developments, but more must be done to address rising humanitarian needs and insecurity, the UN Security Council heard on Tuesday.

Members of council heard from two top UN officials who gave an update on the impact of the recent agreement between the government and the Houthi rebels, which was recently renewed for another two months, while also outlining the challenges that remain.

"The truce has now been holding in Yemen for two-and-a-half months, something unprecedented during this war, and something that seemed unimaginable at the beginning of this year," said Hans Grundberg, UN special envoy for the war-torn country.

Since the truce was announced in April, there have been no confirmed airstrikes in Yemen or cross-border attacks emanating from the country, said Grundberg.

However, as people venture into previously inaccessible frontline areas contaminated with landmines and unexploded ordnance, casualties are increasing.

Meanwhile, the United Nations continues to receive reports of alleged violations from both sides, including shelling, drone attacks, reconnaissance overflights, and the redeployment of forces, despite the overall reduction in fighting. Armed clashes have also been reported, mainly in Marib, Taiz, and Hodeidah.

Following six years of closure, commercial flights have resumed from the airport in Sana'a to Amman, Jordan, and Cairo, Egypt. Hodeidah's important port has also continued to receive fuel steadily.

More than 480,000 metric tonnes of fuel cleared the port during April and May, greater than the amount which entered during the whole of 2021.

"The steady delivery of fuel has taken the pressure off vital services, significantly decreased queues at petrol stations that dominated Sana'a's streets, and has allowed Yemenis to travel more easily throughout the country," said Grundberg.

One critical outstanding issue is the opening of roads to Taiz, and other governorates. Roads currently open are "long and arduous," he said.

According to Grundberg, recent weeks have also revealed the truce's frailty, and delaying its full implementation could cause it to unravel.

It is ultimately up to the parties to safeguard the truce and to deliver on its promise for the benefit of Yemenis, he said.

There have also been "more contentious issues with political implications" as a result of implementation, such as revenue management, civil sector salary payments, travel documents and a more durable ceasefire, he added.

Ghada Mudawi, a senior official with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, also urged the council to address the dire needs in a country where 19 million people are going hungry, with more than 160,000 on the brink of famine.

"Yemen's humanitarian crisis remains as severe today as it was before the truce. In fact, the crisis could soon deteriorate. Such an outcome would undermine the momentum the truce has generated and could undermine prospects for further progress," she said.

In addition to spiraling food prices, a depreciating currency has made matters worse, while significant gaps persist in services such as water, health and education. There are more than 4 million Yeminis uprooted, 7,000 of whom have fled in the last two months.

Aid agencies are also facing access difficulties in Yemen. As a result of local regulations issued in several areas, their movements have been more restricted in recent months.

Humanitarians are also concerned about insecurity since carjackings, abductions and other attacks are on the rise, sometimes forcing them to suspend operations.

Humanitarians continue to deliver aid to 11 million people across Yemen every month, but a UN response plan is currently underfunded, another major threat that has resulted in a reduction in food assistance and a scaleback in many essential programs.

Sweden and the European Commission will host a meeting to discuss Yemen's humanitarian challenges later this month, a move Mudawi welcomes.

Under the UN auspices, Yemen's warring parties entered a two-month cease-fire on April 2. The related parties agreed to extend this UN-brokered truce for another two months on June 2.

Yemen has been mired in a civil war since late 2014 when the Iran-backed Houthi militia seized control of several northern provinces and forced the Saudi-backed Yemeni government out of the capital Sana'a.

The war has killed tens of thousands of people, displaced 4 million, and pushed the country to the brink of starvation. Enditem

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