Middle EastWar

Best Chance for Peace in Yemen in Eight Years: UN Envoy

Yemen faces its best chance to strike a peace deal since the country’s civil war started over eight years ago, although much work remains to be done, UN envoy Hans Grundberg said Monday.

“One year on since the parties agreed to a truce under UN auspices, Yemen is again at a critical juncture,” Grundberg, the secretary-general’s special envoy for Yemen, told the United Nations Security Council via video.

“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,” Grundberg added.

The Arabian Peninsula country is one of the poorest in the Middle East, and has been devastated by the war, which started in 2014.

The conflict is between pro-government forces — backed by an international military coalition led by Saudi Arabia — and Houthi rebels, supported by Iran.

The government and the rebels have exchanged nearly 900 prisoners in recent days, as hopes grow for peace amid a war that has plunged Yemen into one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

Last week, a Saudi delegation, accompanied by Omani mediators, traveled to the Yemeni capital Sana’a for talks aimed at reviving the truce and laying the foundations for a more durable ceasefire.

Grundberg welcomed the “constructive dialogue,” noting that “a supportive regional environment will reinforce peace efforts in Yemen.”

“But the tide could still turn unless the parties take bolder steps toward peace,” he warned.

“Let us be under no illusions. There is a lot of hard work to be done to build trust and make compromise.”

Grundberg added that the parties “must not allow this moment to pass without coming to agreement.”

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