The United Nations (UN) special envoy arrived in Yemen on Wednesday for talks on reopening routes to a rebel-blockaded city that has proved the thorniest problem in implementing a fragile truce.
Swedish diplomat Hans Grundberg flew into the capital Sanaa, held by the Iran-backed Huthi insurgents since 2014, less than a week after the truce was renewed for a second period of two months.
Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, is witnessing what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, seven years into a conflict between the Huthis and a Saudi-led coalition.
Grundberg hailed the truce extension, calling it a “positive signal of the parties’ seriousness to uphold and implement the truce”.
“Yemenis have seen the truce’s tangible benefits. We have witnessed a significant positive shift and we have a responsibility to safeguard it and deliver on its potential for peace in Yemen,” he told reporters.
Grundberg said he would meet the rebel leadership to discuss proposals for reopening roads into Taez, Yemen’s third biggest city which has been largely cut off since 2015.
“I hope we will have constructive discussions on our proposal for reopening roads in Taez and other governorates, as well as economic and humanitarian measures and the way forward,” he said.
Holding talks on Taez was one of the terms of the truce, along with resuming commercial flights out of Sanaa and allowing fuel ships into the lifeline port of Hodeida, which is also in rebel hands.
Flights have resumed from Sanaa to Amman and Cairo and tankers have docked in Hodeida in an attempt to ease fuel shortages in Sanaa and elsewhere.