In Yemen, the belligerents agree on a two-month truce

Pro-government forces and Houthi rebels accepted the UN’s offer to cease fighting for at least two months. The conflict, which has been going on since 2014, has claimed the lives of nearly 380,000 people.

A truce and a slim hope of peace found. Warring parties in Yemen’s seven-year war between pro-government forces backed by a Saudi-led military coalition and Iran-backed Houthi rebels have agreed to a two-month truce beginning Saturday, the United Nations announced on Friday.

Understand everything about the war in Yemen

“The belligerents have responded positively to the United Nations proposal for a two-month truce which will come into effect tomorrow (Saturday) April 2 at 7 p.m.”welcomes in a statement Hans Grundberg, UN envoy for Yemen, adding that this truce could be “renewed with the consent of the parties”. In summary, the belligerents have agreed to halt military air, land and sea offensives in Yemen and beyond its borders. “The parties also agreed to allow tankers to enter ports in Hodeidah province and commercial flights to operate to and from Sanaa airport, with predetermined destinations in the region”, said Hans Grundberg. Only UN flights are currently allowed through the airport in the Houthi-held capital Sanaa. The coalition controls the air and maritime space of Yemen.

“Peace becomes possible”

The poorest country on the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen has been embroiled in a war since 2014 between pro-government forces and Houthi rebels who control much of the north, including the capital Sanaa. According to the UN, the war has caused 380,000 deaths, the vast majority of them due to the indirect consequences of the fighting, such as the lack of drinking water, hunger and disease, and millions of displaced persons.

At the start of the year, the atmosphere was far from calm: Yemen was the scene of a new escalation of fighting. On January 17, 2022, the Houthis attacked facilities in Abu Dhabi killing three people. In response, Saudi Arabia had carried out several air raids in Yemen. Washington had announced the dispatch of a warship and fighter planes to Abu Dhabi. As for France, it indicated its intention to help the Emirates secure their airspace. Hans Grundberg was worried at the time that January would be “the worst month in terms of civilian casualties” since the start of the war.

The announcement of the truce this Friday, which comes into effect on the first day of the holy month of Ramadan, does not, however, come out of nowhere. It comes after intra-Yemeni consultations were held on Wednesday in Riyadh, in the absence of Houthi rebels refusing any dialogue in the territory “enemy”. “The purpose of this truce is to give Yemenis a much-needed halt to this violence, humanitarian assistance and hope that this conflict can end, which is most important”assures Hans Grundberg.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres immediately welcomed the truce. “Now we have to use this momentum” to ensure that it is “fully respected and renewed”, he said during a meeting with journalists. And to add:It demonstrates that even when things seem impossible, when there is a willingness to compromise, peace becomes possible.”

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