Yemen's warring parties agree to two-month truce starting Saturday

Forces loyal to Yemen's Huthi rebels take part in a military parade marking the seventh anniversary of the Saudi-led coalition's intervention in their country, in the capital Sanaa, on March 31, 2022. (Photo: AFP)
The UN said Yemen's warring parties have agreed to a two-month extendable truce starting Saturday, the first day of Ramadan for many Muslims, and an accord on fuel shipments and Sanaa airport.اضافة اعلان

"The parties to the conflict have responded positively to a United Nations proposal for a two-month truce which comes into effect tomorrow 2 April at 1900hrs," UN special envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg said in a statement Friday.

"The truce can be renewed beyond the two-month period with the consent of the parties."

The announcement comes as discussions on Yemen's devastating conflict take place in Saudi Arabia, which leads a military coalition supporting the government against the Iran-backed Huthi rebels.

The insurgents -- who rejected joining talks held on enemy territory -- last week made a surprise offer of a temporary truce and a prisoner swap. 

The coalition later said it would cease military operations in Yemen during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. 

The ceasefire, the first since April 2020, has been respected so far. 

"The parties accepted to halt all offensive military air, ground and maritime operations inside Yemen and across its borders," Grundberg said.

"They also agreed for fuel ships to enter into Hodeida (province's) ports and commercial flights to operate in and out of Sanaa airport to predetermined destinations in the region."

"They further agreed to meet under my auspices to open roads in Taiz and other governorates in Yemen," he added.

The UN envoy thanked both sides for working with him in "good faith". 

"The aim of this truce is to give Yemenis a necessary break from violence, relief from the humanitarian suffering and most importantly hope that an end to this conflict is possible," he added.

- 'Permanent ceasefire' -

The rebels have shunned the week-long discussions, which launched in Riyadh on Wednesday and are hosted by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council. 

But the recent developments bring a glimmer of hope in a brutal war that has killed hundreds of thousands and left millions on the brink of famine in Yemen, long the Arab world's poorest country.  

Grundberg said Friday he would continue to engage with the parties during the two months, "with the aim to reach a permanent ceasefire", and urged both sides to adhere to the truce.

The Huthis last week said they had agreed to a prisoner swap that would free 1,400 of their fighters in exchange for 823 pro-government personnel -- including 16 Saudis and three Sudanese.

The last prisoner swap in Yemen's war was in October 2020, when 1,056 were released on each side, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross. 

Yemen's devastated economy and its complex political situation as well as military matters and humanitarian aid are all on the table at the Riyadh talks.

Yemen's 30 million people are in dire need of assistance.

A UN donors' conference last month raised less than a third of the $4.27 billion target, prompting dark warnings for a country where 80 percent of the population depends on aid.

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