(CNN) – The Saudi-led military alliance and the Iran-aligned Huthi movement, who have been at war in Yemen since 2015, agreed to a two-month truce Friday, marking a significant step toward ending the conflict in years.
The last coordinated cessation of hostilities nationwide was during peace talks in 2016.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres welcomed the truce, which he said has “fueled one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.”
The war has killed tens of thousands of people and has left millions on the brink of starvation.
On Friday, Guterres commended “the Government of Yemen, the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthis for agreeing on a two-month truce in Yemen, including cross-border attacks.”
“The parties accepted to halt all offensive military air, ground and maritime operations inside Yemen and across its borders; they also agreed for fuel ships to enter into Hudaydah ports and commercial flights to operate in and out of Sana’a airport to predetermined destinations in the region; they further agreed to meet under my auspices to open roads in Taiz and other governorates in Yemen,” UN special envoy to Yemen Hans Grundberg said in a statement.
The truce can be renewed past the two-month period with the consent of the parties, Grundberg added.
The foreign minister for Yemen’s Saudi-backed internationally recognized government said Friday that he would be taking steps to release prisoners, open Sana’a airport and allow oil ships through Hodeidah port.
“I received clear directives from President Hadi to take (the) necessary steps to facilitate all the arrangements for the release of all prisoners, opening Sana’a airport, releasing oil ships via Hodeidah, opening roads in the besieged Taiz, to alleviate the suffering caused by Huthi,” Ahmed bin Mubarak said on Twitter.
“We immediately announce the release of the first two fuel ships through the port of Hodeidah,” he added.
Guterres underlined the importance of the truce in his statement, saying: “For more than seven years, war has devastated the lives of millions of Yemeni women, children and men. It is difficult to imagine the extent of their suffering, which has mainly taken place far from the media spotlight. The war has fueled one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, brought state institutions to the verge of collapse, reversed human development by two decades, and threatened regional peace and security.
“Today must be the start of a better future for the people of Yemen,” he said.