UNITED NATIONS (Dispatches) – The UN special envoy for Yemen says he is not only trying to renew and expand the truce that expired last month but to get the warring parties to initiate talks on a path toward a settlement of the eight-year conflict.
Hans Grundberg told the UN Security Council that he outlined ideas and options to the Sana’a-based government and the Saudi-backed allies and mercenaries and has been in constant contact with them on the issues that prevented an extension of the truce.
“And these discussions are making progress and they are ongoing,” he told reporters later.
Pressed on what the obstacles are, he refused to elaborate, stressing the need for discreet diplomacy and saying only: “We are seeing challenges in how to frame issues related to the economic matters such as the payment of salaries, and also broader issues which have an implication on the more long-term settlement of the conflict.”
The UN-backed truce initially took effect in April and raised hopes for a longer pause in fighting than six months.
Meanwhile, the UN special envoy for Yemen sounded the alarm over a worsening economic and humanitarian situation in the war-ravaged country, which remains under a crippling Saudi-led siege.
“Even though overall levels of violence have only increased slightly compared to the six-month truce period, in recent weeks we have seen a concerning uptick in incidents,” Grundberg said.
He said the situation is fragile, and that all parties need to urgently reach an agreement to renew the truce.
The special envoy said that the international community and, more importantly, the Yemenis expect to see actionable commitment to a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
Spokesman of Yemen’s Ansarullah resistance movement, Mohammed Abdul-Salam, clearly stated in September that Yemen’s view regarding the ceasefire is that “the siege must end and foreign forces must leave Yemen,” and that “until these goals are achieved, the ceasefire must not be further extended.”
Addressing the same Security Council session, Reena Ghelani, the operations director in the UN humanitarian office, warned that “hunger continues to haunt more than half the population in Yemen, preying on the most vulnerable.”
The UN official added, “17 million people still do not know where they will get their next meal.”
According to recent figures, two out of three Yemenis are currently suffering from food insecurity. Also, malnutrition rates among Yemeni women and children are among the highest in the world, with 1.3 million pregnant or breastfeeding women and 2.2 million children under five needing treatment for acute malnutrition.
Saudi Arabia began the devastating war on Yemen in March 2015 in collaboration with its Arab allies.