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article imageYemen warring parties agree to UN call for a ceasefire

By Ken Hanly     Mar 27, 2020 in Politics
Five years after the Saudi-led invasion and bombing of Yemen, a ceasefire appears likely as the major warring parties have offered their support for a UN call for an immediate ceasefire which is being called because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Yemen is not prepared for the virus
Though so far Yemen appears to be free of the virus this is quite lucky as the country is not at all prepared to deal with it. Naval blockades have left what health systems there are on the brink of collapse. The country was already facing a humanitarian disaster from the fighting with many lacking food. Diseases including cholera have spread due to the lack of clean water. The arrival of the coronavirus is regarded as merely a matter of time. Indeed perhaps it is a lack of testing that explains why the country has no confirmed cases as yet. Heavy fighting would be certain to make matters worse when it does arrive.
Houthis have already taken restrictive actions
The Houthis have been mimicking others in the region by restrictions of various sorts but the US has cited them as a reason to cut aid to Houthi-controlled regions. However, a ceasefire and the stopping of constant airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition would help immensely to ease the present crises and preventing a worse crisis when the virus arrives.
Houthis and Saudis have had talks sporadically
The two sides have had on-again, off-again talks but so far have not come to an agreement. A ceasefire could be a first confidence-building measure to help bring about more talks.
Yemen’s Houthis and the Saudis have engaged in on-again, off-again peace talks which would doubtless benefit from a ceasefire. This is a war that couldn’t end soon enough for many, and the coronavirus may be yet another reason to stop fighting.
Parties support UN call for a ceasefire
The Saudi-supported Hadi government of Yemen welcome the UN call to de-escalate violence in the country in the light of the coronavirus saying: "The political, economic and health situation require halting all escalations... to preserve people's lives and deal responsibly with this pandemic."
The Saudi-led coalition also supported the UN calling saying that they supported the Yemeni government's decision to accept the UN plea.
The Houthis supported by Iran entered their sixth year of conflict in a relatively strong position as they realized some strategic gains of territory over the last several months also welcomed the call by the UN. Mehdi al-Mashat head of the Houthis' political wing said that the insurgents were open to all efforts and initiatives in the context of a full, real ceasefire. However as yet no one has set out when the ceasefire will take place or how it will be enforced.
More about Yemen civil war, Houthis, Saudi arabia
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