UN envoy says Yemen at 'critical juncture' for peace



One year on since the parties in Yemen agreed to a truce, the country is again at a critical juncture with unprecedented chance for peace, a United Nations envoy said on Monday.

On April 2, 2022, the Yemeni government and the Houthi militia agreed upon a two-month truce brokered by the United Nations, which was later renewed twice through Oct. 2. However, Yemen's warring sides have failed to reach an agreement on further extension.

Briefing a Security Council meeting, UN Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg pointed out that the truce has continued to deliver well beyond its expiration six months ago, and the parties are engaging on next steps.

"I believe we have not seen such a serious opportunity for making progress towards ending the conflict in eight years," he said.

Meanwhile, the envoy warned that "the tide could still turn" unless the parties take bolder steps towards peace.

As one of the encouraging signs, Grundberg said many aspects of the truce continue to be implemented beyond its lifespan, noting that "Yemen is experiencing the longest period of relative calm yet in this ruinous war."

"However, this is not enough," he said. "Yemenis still live with unimaginable hardship every day. And recent developments are a reminder that escalation can quickly reverse hard-won gains."

Grundberg stressed that the truce, while an important achievement, was meant to be a temporary measure to open space for political talks to sustainably end the war and "we could never rely on it to deliver a peaceful future to Yemen."

The envoy said he has continued his engagement with the parties to identify next steps towards a permanent ceasefire and the reactivation of a political process under UN auspices, while discussions are also ongoing among regional and Yemeni stakeholders.

He welcomed the recent statement by the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and Iran, at a ministerial meeting in Beijing, committing to enhance their cooperation on matters that would promote security and stability in the region.

"A supportive regional environment will reinforce peace efforts in Yemen," said Grundberg.

Any new agreement in Yemen must be a clear step towards a Yemeni-led political process, he said, adding that "there is a lot of hard work to be done to build trust and make compromise."

"Mediation efforts will always adapt and evolve. But, if the parties allow this moment to pass by without coming to agreement, it will be truly regrettable," said Grundberg.

"I ask the international community to redouble its support to ensure this delicate and rare opportunity is not lost," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency)