Special Envoy Hans Grundberg opening remarks to the press
Good morning again and everyone warm Ramadan Kareem from me.
I want to welcome you and thank you for joining us today.
As you know, the warring parties have agreed to a two-month truce that started last Saturday. The Truce agreement includes some important humanitarian measures, namely: the entry of 18 fuel ships to Hudaydah ports, the operation of two commercial flights a week in and out of Sana’a airport, and a meeting between the parties to agree on opening roads in Taiz and other governorates to facilitate freedom of movement of civilians inside Yemen. I really hope this agreement allows Yemenis to observe and celebrate Ramadan in the tranquility the holy month inspires everywhere.
This is the first nationwide Truce in Yemen for the past six years. This is both a precious and a precarious moment. For over seven years, Yemenis have suffered unimaginable losses and incredibly difficult living conditions. The conflict has marked every aspect of daily life, from markets, to roads, to schools, courts, hospitals, and homes. This Truce provides a small but important window to begin reversing this difficult reality. Building on the Truce agreement to support Yemenis in forging a path towards peace is the shared responsibility of the parties, the region, the United Nations and the international community. Much as the success of the next steps will depend on these actors, the agreement would not have been possible in the first place without them. I would like to take this opportunity to thank in particular the Permanent Members of the United Nations’ Security Council, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Sultanate of Oman for their invaluable support.
This positive development is a reminder that the United Nations’ principles of diplomacy and mediation continue to be central to conflict management and conflict resolution. All nations and warring parties can and should work together to achieve peace. This requires political will.
This is a rare opportunity in a long and brutal war to make progress towards a political solution. This means the parties need to engage constructively, in good faith and without preconditions in a meaningful dialogue about ending the conflict. Ceasefires rarely hold if not supported by progress on the political track. And I believe Yemenis are united in their desire for the truce to be upheld, renewed and consolidated as a step towards peace.
Allow me now to provide you with a quick update about the status of the Truce so far, and then talk briefly about next steps.
Since the start of the truce, we have seen significant reduction of violence. However, there are reports of some hostile military activities, particularly around Marib, which are of concern. We are currently setting up coordination mechanism with the parties to maintain open channels of communication and help them prevent, de-escalate and manage incidents in support of their commitment to halt all offensive military operations and freeze their positions. We hope this will strengthen the Truce. But the United Nations isn’t monitoring. And the responsibility to uphold the Truce is squarely with the parties themselves.
The Government of Yemen released two fuel ships on the eve of the Truce, Friday, as a much-welcomed sign of goodwill. Two more fuel ships were released today. I hope we will see a regular entry of fuel into the ports in line with the agreement and the public commitments, to the benefit of millions of Yemenis. Preparations are underway for the first commercial flight to take off from Sana’a. My office is also preparing for a meeting that convenes the parties to agree on the opening of roads in Taiz and elsewhere.
Invitations have already been sent out to the parties and we look forward to their responses to nominate their teams and finalize a date.
Media has a responsibility as well. Now more than ever, accurate reporting that counters the spread of false information is key for the prospects of the Truce’s success. We will also rely on you and particularly on the Yemeni media community to show restraint and curb inflammatory rhetoric to foster an environment conducive to confidence building between the parties.
I would like to reiterate that this Truce is a step, an important one, but a fragile step, nonetheless. We need to make the best possible use of the window this Truce gives us to work towards ending the conflict. These two months will be a test of the parties’ commitment to reaching a peaceful resolution of the conflict that prioritizes the needs of the Yemeni people.
A peaceful, just and sustainable resolution of the conflict can never be reached on the battlefield. Dialogue is needed. Ending the war has been a consistent message during the dialogues and consultations my Office started in March with diverse Yemeni stakeholders. These consultations will resume soon and continue through the month of May. The aim is to inform my Framework, including its multitrack process that will address immediate and long-term needs and priorities to help reach a political settlement to end the conflict in a way that responds to the aspirations of the Yemeni people.
I want to finish by stressing that it is still early days in the Truce. In any Truce, the early days are the most crucial and the most delicate. I hope the parties are steadfast in their commitment to make this work. We need to build confidence and trust, and this is not easy after more than seven years of conflict. The will of the warring parties, the support of the region and the international community will be crucial to uphold the Truce and to maintain the momentum and the possibility of moving towards a political process and finding also an inclusive, peaceful and sustainable end to the conflict.
Thank you very much.