Yemen truce deadline approaches as wait for peace drags on
SANAA, Yemen. People stand amid the debris of a house destroyed by Saudi-led airstrikes in Sanaa on August 11, 2016.<strong> (Photo: Xinhua)

SANAA, Yemen, (AFP) - As a ceasefire deadline in war-ravaged Yemen draws near, civilians hope the truce will be extended -- fearing any fresh fighting would wipe out the small gains they have made.

In the rebel-held capital Sanaa, agriculture graduate Loujain al-Ouazir has been working to raise goats and poultry for three years on a farm on top of one the ancient city's iconic mud brick tower houses.

Ouazir only managed to make the farm successful in recent months as the truce allowed goods to flow more freely and cut the price of supplies.

"Thanks to the truce, the prices of animal feed and fuel have come down," Ouazir said.

Yemen's war between Iran-backed Huthi rebels and a Saudi-led coalition has left hundreds of thousands dead and created what the United Nations calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

A UN-brokered ceasefire, which took effect in April and has twice been renewed, has reduced casualties by 60 per cent and quadrupled fuel imports into the rebel-held port of Hodeida, more than 40 humanitarian groups said on Thursday.

The truce has largely held, although the rival sides have traded blame over violations.

On Friday, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on each side to extend the ceasefire.

"I strongly urge the Yemeni parties not only to renew but also to expand the truce’s terms and duration," his spokesman said in a statement.

- October 2 deadline -

Ouazir said the relative peace -- especially an end to air strikes in Sanaa -- has created a safer environment for her business of selling milk and eggs.

"I hope the truce will continue until the war stops completely," she said, adding that she dreamt of expanding her farm "on the ground, and not on the roof of the house".

The truce is due to expire on Sunday, with the UN working to ensure each side agrees to extend once again.

Under the truce, commercial flights have resumed from the rebel-held capital Sanaa to Jordan and Egypt, while oil tankers have been able to dock in Hodeida.

The successive truces have brought some respite to a people exhausted by eight years of war, in a country where about 23.4 million of the 30 million population rely on humanitarian aid.

But there has been little fundamental progress towards peace.

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