UN Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg on Wednesday called for efforts toward a nationwide cease-fire and a sustainable political settlement of the conflict.
The overall military situation in Yemen continues to be relatively stable. Since a truce came into effect on April 2, 2022, Yemeni men and women have experienced almost a year of lower levels of violence, but “this is fragile,” said Grundberg.
In a briefing to the Security Council, he expressed concerns about the uptick in the number and the intensity of clashes in several front-line areas, particularly the fronts in Marib and Taiz. “I call on the parties to exercise maximum restraint during this critical time, including refraining from escalatory public rhetoric, to avoid destabilizing the situation.”
In addition to the relative calm, elements of the truce continue to be implemented despite the fact that the truce has not been renewed lately. Thanks to the valuable support of Jordan, commercial flights continue to operate three times a week between Sanaa and Amman. Fuel ships continue to enter Hodeidah ports, along with other commodities, he noted.
Yet, these gains are also fragile. And daily life remains a struggle for most Yemenis, he warned.
The economic situation continues to be dire with the sadly familiar pattern of tit-for-tat economic retaliations, rather than cooperation. New restrictions hinder the freedom of movement of civilians, particularly women, and impede commercial traffic between different parts of the country. Yemenis’ access to basic services remains limited, said Grundberg.
“This underscores what I have stated almost one year ago: The truce can only be a stepping stone. We urgently need to build on what was achieved by the truce and work toward a nationwide cease-fire and an inclusive political settlement to end the conflict in Yemen.”
Intense diplomatic efforts are ongoing at different levels to bring the conflict in Yemen to an end, he said.
“We are currently witnessing renewed regional diplomatic momentum, as well as a step change in the scope and depth of the discussions. I welcome the continued efforts of regional member states, in particular, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Sultanate of Oman and ask the parties to seize the opportunities created by the regional momentum.”
Grundberg also called on all sides to maintain a conducive environment for discussions and to allow the time and space needed for the discussions to bear fruit, warning that impatience at this juncture risks a return to a cycle of violence and risks unraveling what has been achieved so far.
Short-term solutions and a piecemeal approach can only bring partial relief. A cease-fire and a sustainable political settlement can only be achieved through a more comprehensive approach, he said. “The parties, as well as regional states, are clear that any understanding reached as part of the ongoing discussions must be translated into an intra-Yemeni agreement under UN auspices. A resumption of a political process is a central element in this regard and remains at the core of my mandate.”
The political process must take into account the complexities of the conflict. It will be a difficult process that requires strong planning and a vision, backed by the commitment of the parties, he said.
A political process that addresses the concerns and aspirations of the Yemeni people must be Yemeni-owned and inclusive. It must include the voices of a wide range of Yemeni stakeholders, including youth, civil society, and women, he added.
Grundberg hailed the Chinese-brokered agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran on the restoration of diplomatic relations, saying the deal will have a positive impact on Yemen.
“Allow me to also take this opportunity to welcome the recent agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran to resume diplomatic ties, which was facilitated by the People’s Republic of China. This dialogue and good neighborly relations are important for the region and for Yemen,” he said.
The parties must seize the opportunity presented by this regional and international momentum to take decisive steps toward a more peaceful future. This requires patience and a long-term perspective. And this requires courage and leadership. Much has been achieved over the past year and now is the time to take the next steps, he said.
Yemen has been mired in a civil war since late 2014 when the Iran-backed Houthi militia stormed several northern cities and forced the Saudi-backed Yemeni government out of the capital Sanaa. A Saudi-led military coalition intervened in the Yemeni conflict in 2015 to support the Yemeni government.