Yemen truce extended for two months, but warring sides far apart

A truce between the Yemeni government and the country’s Houthi rebels has been extended for two months, the United Nations has announced.

The initial two-month truce, the first since 2016, began on April 2 and was set to expire on Thursday. Still, after days of negotiations, UN Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg announced that parties to the conflict had agreed to an extension.

“I would like to announce that the parties to the conflict have agreed to the United Nations’ proposal to renew the current truce in Yemen for two additional months,” Grundberg said.

Grundberg added that the truce extension would come into effect “when the current truce period expires, today 2 June 2022 at 19:00 Yemen time (1600 GMT)”.

“The announcement of the truce extension today shows a serious commitment from all parties to end the senseless suffering of millions of Yemenis,” the Norwegian Refugee Council’s (NRC) Yemen Country Director, Erin Hutchinson, said in a statement after Grundberg’s announcement. “The last two months have shown that peaceful solutions to the conflict are a real option.”

It is unclear what eventually convinced the warring sides to agree to a renewal of the truce at the last minute.

Though the provisions of the truce were not fully implemented – roads leading to the largely government-held city of Taiz continue to be closed by the Iran-aligned Houthis, for example – there have been some significant breakthroughs.

As part of the truce deal that went into effect on April 2, the parties to the conflict had agreed to halt all military operations inside Yemen and across its borders, operate two commercial flights a week from Houthi-controlled Sanaa to Jordan and Egypt, allow 18 fuel vessels into the port of Houthi-controlled Hodeidah, and open the roads in Taiz and other governorates.

According to the NRC, the number of civilians killed and injured in Yemen dropped by more than 50 percent in the first month of the truce.

Another major success of the truce was the resumption of commercial flights from Sanaa Airport on April 16, the first in six years. A Saudi-led coalition blockade had banned commercial flights from using the airport.

The flight took off from Sanaa to Amman, Jordan, after the government and the Saudi-led coalition agreed to allow passports issued by the Houthi rebel authorities in the Yemeni capital to be used for travel.

The flight had been initially scheduled for April 2, but it was delayed as the government rejected the use of the Houthi-issued travel documents.

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