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NEW YORK: Yemen’s special envoy Hans Grundberg urged on Tuesday that the Houthis should lift the siege of Taiz to allow millions of suffering residents access to vital humanitarian aid, health care and economic opportunities.

Reporting at the monthly meeting of the UN Security Council on the war-ravaged nation, Grundberg said that action should be taken, even as he welcomed the fact that conflict between the Yemeni government and the Iran-backed group The pause is over.

The ceasefire has seen a significant reduction in hostilities and civilian casualties, allowed the resumption of civilian flights from the long-closed Sanaa Airport, and facilitated the flow of fuel into Hodeidah Port.

Grundberg said the Houthis should now gradually open up the roads leading to the city. Taiz Governorate has been under siege since 2015, when the group sealed off main roads and besieged the city centre, largely cutting it off from the rest of the country.

“It is important that this agreement can also help alleviate the suffering of the people of Taiz,” Grundberg told the Security Council.

“Over the years, (Taizis) freedom of movement has been greatly hampered by this conflict. As the Taizis know very well, the only open roads in the city are long and difficult,” said Grundberg. The Swedish diplomat told the council that He had personally traveled more than six hours along the narrow, winding and bumpy mountain road from Aden to the city of Taiz. Before the conflict, the same journey on the main road would have taken only three hours.”

“In Taiz, I met men, women and youth who told me about their daily plight due to the closure of access roads in and out of the city. I also saw for the first time how severe restrictions crippled the economy It has impaired access to healthcare and put citizens’ travel at risk.”

The United Nations has proposed a phased opening of the roads around Taiz. It includes a main road east from Taiz City to the Houban area as well as additional roads to other governorates. The proposal includes measures to ensure the safety of civilian passengers.

“While I am excited by the positive response from the Yemeni government to the UN resolution, I look forward to Ansar Allah’s response,” Grundberg said.

Responding to questions from Arab News after the meeting, Grundberg said he wanted to urge the Houthis to respond.

“If you consider the fact that seven years have passed and we haven’t seen a resolution, but only a number of attempts (to solve the problem) of Taiz, I think the fact that we are going to introduce a resolution Have been waiting six days since it was done. Not long in that context for them.

“But since we are within the framework of a 60-day ceasefire, every day is particularly long. So it just highlights the fact that this is not an easy matter to resolve. But I am ansar Allah from all sides including I encourage you to make progress on this issue as expeditiously as possible.”

On Tuesday, Grundberg addressed the Security Council in person for the first time since the ceasefire took effect on April 2, which was later extended to August 2. Back in his report, he told council members that the ceasefire continues as there have been no air raids inside Yemen and no cross-border attacks since the start of the agreement.

There has also been a significant reduction in civilian casualties, although Grundberg regretted the fact that landmines and unexplained ordnance still resulted in casualties as civilians moved into contaminated border areas previously inaccessible to them. .

Despite the overall reduction in hostilities, however, Grundberg noted that violations continued with armed conflicts on several fronts, particularly in Marib, Taiz and Hodeidah governorates.

“As you know, we don’t have independent surveillance capability, but I take these allegations very seriously,” Grundberg said. “It is important to prevent such alleged incidents from escalating anew and fueling a spiral of violence.”

Grundberg also noted his participation in organizing the first two meetings of the Military Coordination Committee, which included representatives from several parties and the Coalition’s Joint Army Command. He said the committee had agreed to meet regularly.

“The face-to-face meetings represent an important first step towards building trust and improving communication between the parties,” he said.

Since the ceasefire began, several commercial flights have departed from Sanaa Airport, which was closed for six years. Around 3,000 passengers have been taken to Amman and Cairo for medical treatment and to be reunited with family members.

Grundberg noted the country’s government “prioritizing the needs of Yemenis” by facilitating the airport’s opening, as well as their “important role for the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”. Sincere appreciation for.” Flight facilities. ,

He said a steady flow of fuel into Hodeidah port continued throughout the ceasefire. During the months of April and May, more than 480,000 metric tons of fuel products were approved, “more fuel than entered Hodeidah during the previous year.”

“Steady delivery of fuel has eased pressure on vital services, significantly reduced queues at petrol stations that dominate Sanaa’s roads, and allowed Yemenis to travel more easily across the country,” he said. They said.

The United Arab Emirates’ Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Lana Nuseebeh, called for intensifying efforts to open the main road from Grundberg to Taiz, not just secondary ones, “to ease the suffering of the millions living under siege. For.”

She said that despite the ceasefire, the Houthis continue to mobilize and recruit to “educate extremist-minded children” in areas of their control.

Nuseebeh, along with other council members, commended Saudi Arabia for contributing $10 million to the United Nations-backed rescue operation on the successful supertanker safe.

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said there was now “a cause for genuine optimism”, as is the ceasefire, and building on this progress will be the central focus of President Joe Biden’s visit to the region next month.

Asked by Arab News whether he shared the optimism that the ceasefire would develop into a permanent solution to the seven-year conflict, Grundberg said he was taking a cautious approach.

“I try to take one step at a time and not do it too quickly, but also make sure that whatever steps are taken are done and implemented in a coordinated manner. What we are seeing right now is unprecedented steps. What we haven’t seen in the last seven years and that is absolutely something that we should welcome.

“But then there is absolutely more to be done. Therefore, we want to continue to encourage all parties on all issues and hope that we can take the necessary steps.”