June 20-26: Ceasefire violations kill dozens, UN urges immediate resolution

Tuesday, June 21Following two months of negotiations in Kuwait, UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed urged the country’s warring parties to finalize a peace deal as soon as possible. The envoy emphasized that now is the time for both the Houthis and Hadi’s government to make concessions. He added that the recently introduced roadmap to resolve the conflict, which outlines the formation and responsibilities of a national unity government, has been received positively by both sides.

The Saudi-led coalition said that it intercepted a ballistic missile fired in Marib, while locals say a Saudi airstrike in Lahj caused eight civilian casualties. The exchange is one of many instances of violations of the ceasefire by all sides of the conflict.

Decades after the disappearance of thousands of Yemeni Jewish children in Israel between 1948 and 1954, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is calling to “reveal the truth about the Yemenite children,” saying that “the time has come to know what happened and to do justice here.”

Between 1,500 and 5,000 Sephardic children, mainly Yemenite toddlers, were reported missing during the period following Israel’s founding. Many parents were told that their children had died, sparking claims they were kidnapped and given to Ashkenazi couples.

Wednesday, June 22 A senior UN official said that already limited food distribution in Yemen will be forced to scale back by August because of severe funding shortages.

“About 14 million people, or roughly half the country's population, suffer from food insecurity at ‘crisis’ or ‘emergency’ levels,” said George Khoury, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Yemen. Emergency level is just one step before famine on the UN's food insecurity scale. About $200 million is reportedly needed to keep food distribution at current levels in the coming months.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discuss improving civilian protection in Yemen, and other regional issues. The meeting, requested by the Saudis, comes following the release of a UN report that originally listed the Saudi-led coalition as the group responsible for the most child deaths in Yemen in the past year. The coalition was removed from the list after Saudi Arabia threatened to withdraw funding from UN programs. Ban claims to stand by the original report.

Yemeni Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Mohammed al-Maitami said that an evaluation of war damages in six Yemeni governorates has been completed, with initial estimates reaching $12 billion.

The survey focused on six major sectors including health, education, electricity, and water. Maitami added that the study was carried out by the Yemeni government in cooperation with experts from the European Union and the United Nations Development Program.

Thursday, June 23 Residents of Ja’ar and Zinjibar reported that al-Qaeda fighters have returned to the southern cities a month after their negotiated withdrawal. Militants are now said to be seen during the day driving pickup trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns and retreating to hideouts at night.

The Yemeni government said that Houthi forces must withdraw from all territories seized since 2014 and hand back control of state institutions ahead of any political settlement.

Meanwhile, the Houthi delegation said it would not agree to any deal on military and security issues until there was an agreement on a consensus president and a national unity government to oversee the transition. This disagreement on the sequence of a political settlement has long been one of the major sticking points in the negotiations.

Friday, June 24 Clashes across Yemen, including in Jawf province and Ta’iz, killed 22 Houthis and 11 pro-government forces, according to military officials. Eight of the pro-government casualties were killed by friendly fire from a Saudi-led airstrike that missed its target.

Saturday, June 25 Former president Ali Abdullah Saleh spoke to constituents and reporters about the ongoing war, the peace talks in Kuwait, and the role of foreign powers in Yemen’s conflict. Following reports that Riyadh has been proposed as the location for the signing of a peace deal between Yemen’s government-in-exile and the Houthis, Saleh claimed that the GPC will never travel to Saudi Arabia, even if it means that the war will continue for decades. This is despite the fact that many GPC members have resided in Saudi Arabia since the beginning of the war.

Sunday, June 26 Saudi-led airstrikes killed at least seven people in Yemen on Sunday, according to residents. Two women died in an airstrike on a home located between the provinces of Ta’iz and Lahj, and five were killed in Khawlan, southeast of San’a. It is unclear if the casualties from the Khawlan strike were civilians.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said "serious violations" have been committed in Yemen’s current ceasefire, and called on warring parties to reach a peace deal before the conflict claims more casualties.

"Whilst the cessation of hostilities is mostly holding, there have been serious violations, causing further casualties and suffering among the civilian population, including children." 

Ban added that time is not on Yemen’s side, saying that, "There is an alarming scarcity of basic food items. The economy is in precarious condition.”