War-torn Yemen hold breath as two-month truce begins

UNITED NATIONS, Apr 03 (APP): The United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, has welcomed the positive reactions by all sides to the two-month truce reached in war-torn Yemen.

In a statement, he stressed the importance of building on the agreement to restore some trust between the warring parties and resume a political process aimed at ending the conflict.

Tens of thousands of civilians have been killed in more than seven years of fighting between Yemeni forces, backed by a Saudi-led coalition, and Houthi rebels.

Grundberg issued a statement to mark the ceasefire, which began at 7 p.m., local time, and coincides with the start of the holy month of Ramazan.

“The success of this initiative will depend on the warring parties’ continued commitment to implementing the truce agreement with its accompanying humanitarian measures,” he said.

“I also hope the goodwill that we saw from all sides in public will translate into long-term de-escalation of inflammatory media rhetoric and hate speech.”

The UN envoy had announced the truce on Friday, which calls for a halt to all offensive ground, aerial and naval military operations in Yemen and across its borders.

Fuel ships will also be allowed to enter into ports in the Hudaydah region, and commercial flights will operate from the capital, Sana’a, to predetermined destinations in the region.

The parties have further agreed to meet to open roads in Taiz and other governorates. The truce can be renewed once the two months are up, provided the sides agree.

Grundberg stressed the importance of building on the agreement to restore trust between the sides and resume a political process towards ending the conflict.

He also offered heartfelt congratulations to the Yemeni people on the start of Ramazan, adding, “I hope the onset of this truce will give Yemenis a chance to celebrate the holy month in peace, safety and tranquility.”

Speaking on Friday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the truce must be a first step to ending the country’s devastating war.

“A halt to the fighting, coupled with the entry of fuel ships, and the easing of restrictions on the movement of people and goods in, out and within the country, will contribute to building trust and creating a conducive environment to resume negotiations for a peaceful settlement of the conflict,” he said.