UN Special Envoy remarks to the press at Sana’a airport
Thank you very much for being here today. And allow me first and foremost to wish you a blessed Ramadan. I leave today after a three-day visit where I met with the senior political leadership here in Sana'a. We discussed progress on the implementation of the truce and all its elements, as well as ways to build on the truce as a step towards a comprehensive political solution to the conflict. Since the truce came into effect on the 2nd of April, and despite reported violations that we are concerned about, we have seen a significant overall reduction in hostilities and no confirmed reports of airstrikes or cross-border attacks. We have also seen badly needed fuel ships coming into the ports of Hudaydah, which I hope will contribute to resolving the fuel crisis you have been experiencing here in Sana’a. A steady flow of ships should be entering Hudaydah throughout the duration of the truce. Intense work and preparations are ongoing for the opening of Sana’a airport for the first commercial flight in six years. And the preparations and consultations have already started for the meeting to agree on opening roads in Taiz and other governorates.
And while we see that the truce is broadly holding, we need to be mindful of the challenges, too. We are relying on the parties’ continued commitment and serious engagement in upholding the truce. Dialogue in good faith with each other is key and the parties need to make use of the United Nations facilitated mechanisms we provided to support them in that regard.
During my meetings here, I have stressed the importance of capitalizing on the unique potential that this truce brings. The truce offers some immediate humanitarian relief and a break from violence. Let us be clear, this truce is first and foremost for the Yemeni people. It also provides an opening for creating a conducive environment for a political process to end the conflict, as well as for more durable measures to improve the humanitarian and economic situation and ending the violence.
We will continue to work around the clock to support the parties in keeping their commitments to adhere to, sustain and strengthen the truce, and to engage constructively in finding a comprehensive solution to the conflict. The region and the world are also closely watching and stand ready to offer support. This is an opportunity to end the conflict and reach a just peace that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Yemeni people. We have a collective responsibility to rise to the occasion.
Thank you very much.
Questions and Answers
Almasirah TV: The airport had not opened, why the delay? And what is your schedule after this visit?
UN Special Envoy: Thank you for your question. And as all of you who know me, you know that I have been engaged with Yemen for considerable amount of years. And therefore, the expectations and the anticipation when it comes to the issue of the airport, the opening of the commercial flight form the airport in Sana’a is something that I not only am aware of but also feel, with all the Yemenis that I have interacted with. I, therefore, would obviously very much want to be in a situation where I could give you a firm date of the first flight at this point of time. But what I can tell you is that we are making serious progress on the matter. In all our engagements with all entities and with all interlocutors that are relevant for this to happen, I have met a constructive attitude, and there are no political obstacles that I have seen in this issue so far. So let me, therefore, re-underline the fact that all sides are committed to this issue. At this particular moment of time, we are working through the bureaucratic details that are necessary to put in place following a closure that has lasted for seven years. And this is something that I will look forward to following very closely and hopefully get back to you soon with a date that you expect.
As it comes to the second question, my further travel details, instead of underlining my travel details, I would rather underline my priorities, and they are to continue to work in ensuring that the truce that we have seen put in place is strengthened, and that all sides are continuing in their work and engaging on the truce and upholding it, and also turning it into a new reality in Yemen. And that is something that I will prioritize on in constant coordination and communication with all relevant Yemeni parties. Thank you.
AFP: I have two questions. What is preventing a direct peace negotiation to happen at the moment? And second question is about the travelers, who is allowed to travel aboard the flight from the airport?
UN Special Envoy: Thank you very much, thank you for that very good question. And as you know, and those of you who have read my briefings to the Security Council, I am of the opinion that for any conflict, all parties to any conflict regardless of where it is, should always be in a position to engage with one another regardless of the state of play of that conflict. However, following seven years, seven long years of war, and also following intense diplomatic activity from me and my office’s colleagues in this regard, we have achieved a major breakthrough, and that is the truce that we have seen the parties come to an agreement to. And my sincere hope is that this truce will now create a conducive environment to explore all aspects needed for negotiations to take place. But first let’s put an effort to making sure that the truce is upheld and strengthened. Thank you.
Thank you for reminding me of the second question, as the setup for the flights from Sana’a airport are a commercial one, the United Nations is not engaged in defining who the passengers are going to be.
AP: Have you reached any decisive conclusion on the matter of paying the salaries? What are the decisions made during the visit?
UN Special Envoy: thank you for a very good question, let me start with the second first if you don’t mind, and then go to the first. So, starting off with the discussions that have been held during the last three days here in Sana’a. First and foremost, I have to say that I am encouraged by those discussions that I’ve had and the constructive and frank tone and engagement I’ve had on all levels here. And there, I have received reaffirmed commitment to all aspects of implementing the truce in my engagement here, which is very important point and which I welcome very much. We have also been engaging in discussing not only upholding the truce, but also actions in strengthening it, and also further steps beyond the two months that we have in front of us. And on a separate note, I also took the opportunity in my visit here to Sana’a, to meet the head of the Prisoners Committee Abdulqader Almortada, in order to discuss the matter of prisoners’ release with him and had good engagement with him.
On the matter of salaries, as you are aware this issue is not a part of the truce, but it is a critical element that had an impact on Yemenis for a long period of time. So regardless of where we have been when it comes to the conflict in Yemen during these last years, this issue has always been a matter of priority. And this was part of my discussions that I had in the offices of the Central Bank here in Sana’a, and I will look forward to continue these engagement not only here, but also elsewhere. Thank you.