Yemen warring parties may agree truce in ‘immediate future’ – UN envoy

The warring parties in Yemen will be expected to formally approve “in the immediate future” agreements on a nationwide ceasefire, key economic and humanitarian measures, as well as a resumption of political talks, according to United Nations envoy Martin Griffiths.

Griffiths told the UN Security Council on Thursday he has been negotiating with the parties on the texts of his proposals for the past two weeks. “We expect them to agree on and formally adopt these agreements in the immediate future,” he said.

The envoy said the measures could include release of prisoners and detainees, opening Sana’a International Airport, paying civil servant salaries, opening access roads, and ensuring entry at ports for ships carrying commodities that will help in the fight against Covid-19, Reuters reported.

“The conversations we had with the two parties, and our consultations with the Saudi-led Coalition among other international actors … are continuous, detailed and constructive,” Griffith said.

He said “good progress” was being made and the United Nations was redoubling its efforts to bridge outstanding differences “before we convene them at a meeting where … these agreements will be tabled, confirmed – I hope – and published.”

Griffith’s latest push for peace for Yemen was sparked by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s call last month for a global ceasefire so the world can focus on fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

U.N. aid chief Mark Lowcock warned the Security Council of fast spread of COVID-19 in Yemen “Epidemiologists warn that COVID-19 in Yemen could spread faster, more widely and with deadlier consequences than in many other countries,”

He also warned that the world’s largest aid operation needed money and that three-quarters of the United Nations 41 major programs “will start closing down in the next few weeks if we can’t secure additional funds.”

“This means we will have to start eliminating many of the activities that may offer Yemenis’ the best chance to avoid COVID-19,” Lowcock said.