A two-month truce in Yemen which goes into effect on Saturday must be a first step in ending the county’s devastating war, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on the eve of the ceasefire. 

Yemen’s Government, backed by a Saudi-led coalition, and Houthi rebels have been battling since 2015. 

Mr. Guterres commended the sides for reaching the agreement, which begins at 19:00 on Saturday, local time, and coincides with the start of the holy month of Ramadan. 

A better future 

“Today must be the start of a better future for the people of Yemen,” he said, speaking in New York. 

Mr. Guterres urged all parties “to make the necessary arrangements to support the successful implementation of the truce, and to operationalize cooperation mechanisms without delay.”  

The truce had been announced earlier on Friday by UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg.  

In a statement, he called on the parties to fully adhere to and respect the agreement, and to take all necessary steps towards its immediate implementation. 

‘Long overdue step’ 

“This Truce is a first and long overdue step,” said Mr. Grundberg. “All Yemeni women, men and children that have suffered immensely through over seven years of war, expect nothing less than an end to this war. The parties must deliver nothing less.” 

Under the truce, warring sides have accepted to halt all offensive military operations in Yemen and across its borders. 

They have also agreed for fuel ships to enter into ports in the Hudaydah region, and for commercial flights to operate from the airport in the capital, Sana’a, to predetermined destinations in the region. 

The parties have further agreed to meet under the auspices of the UN Special Envoy to open roads in Taiz and other governorates.  

Possibility of renewal 

The UN chief said the truce, which has the possibility of renewal, opens the door to addressing the urgent humanitarian and economic needs in Yemen, and creates a genuine opportunity to restart the political process. 

“A halt to the fighting, coupled with the entry of fuel ships, and the easing of restrictions on the movement of people and goods in, out and within the country, will contribute to building trust and creating a conducive environment to resume negotiations for a peaceful settlement of the conflict,” he said. 

Mr. Grundberg, the UN Envoy, said he plans to intensify his work with the parties during the two-month period, with the aim of reaching a permanent ceasefire, addressing urgent economic and humanitarian measures and resuming the political process.  

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