RIYADH: Violence in Yemen has significantly dropped in the last two weeks, the UN’s special envoy to the country said Friday.
The comments by Martin Griffiths to the security council come after the Yemeni government and southern separatists signed a Saudi-brokered power sharing agreement earlier this month.
While both parties are part of a coalition fighting the Iran-backed Houthi militia, many hoped the deal could pave the way to a broader agreement to end fighting in the country.
On Wednesday, King Salman said the agreement could open the door to broader peace talks and that the Kingdom sought a political settlement.
Griffiths said that in the last two weeks the rate of the war had dramatically reduced.
“We call this de-escalation, a reduction in the tempo of the war and perhaps, we hope, a move towards an overall ceasefire in Yemen.”
He said their had been dramatic reductions in the number of airstrikes and missile and drone attacks and that the number of security incidents in Hodeidah, the key port which became the main hub of the conflict, had significantly reduced.
“In the last two weeks, there were almost 80 percet fewer airstrikes nation-wide than in the two weeks prior," Griffiths said. "In recent weeks, there have been entire 48-hour periods without airstrikes for the first time since the conflict began."
He added that the Houthis had also stopped firing missiles and exploding drones into Saudi Arabia.
Griffiths thanked the Kingdom’s leaders for the role they played in brokering the agreement between the government of Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and the Southern Transitional Council after fighting erupted between their forces in the summer.
He said the clashes had made a further break up of the country very real, something he described as terrifying.”
Griffiths said Mohammed bin Salman “very positive about the prospects of a comprehensive, peaceful resolution to the conflict in Yemen” when they met two weeks ago.
The crown prince was clear Saudi Arabia will “support efforts to make this happen and happen soon,” Griffiths said.
The war in Yemen started after the Houthis seized the capital Sanaa in 2014 from the internationally recognized government and launched an offensive across the country. A coalition including Saudi Arabia and the UAE intervened in 2015 after the militants invaded the city of Aden.