Yemen Truce to Begin on Friday

2015-0710 Yemen Truce to Begin on Friday

Smoke billows following air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition on a weapons depot at a rebel-controlled military airport in the Yemeni capital. Mohammed Huwais/AFP Photo

UNITED NATIONS // The United Nations expects an unconditional week-long humanitarian pause in the fighting in Yemen to start on Friday, allowing the delivery of humanitarian aid to some of the 21 million people in need.

The pause in fighting will go into effect at 23.59 local time (2059 GMT) on Friday until the end of Ramadan on July 17, said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric on Thursday.

A Saudi Arabia-led coalition of Arab states has been bombing the Iranian-allied Houthi rebel movement since late March in a bid to restore to power Yemeni president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi, who has been exiled to Riyadh.

“It is imperative and urgent that humanitarian aid can reach all vulnerable people of Yemen unimpeded and through an unconditional humanitarian pause,” Mr Dujarric said.

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon has received assurances from the Shiite Houthi rebels and other parties that “the pause will be fully respected and that there will be no violations from any combatants under their control,” he said.

“The secretary-general looks forward to the commitments of all parties to the conflict in Yemen to an unconditional humanitarian pause to start on Friday … until the end of Ramadan,” said Mr Dujarric.

More than 3,000 people have been killed in the conflict and over a million displaced, and the UN has been urgently pushing for a pause to help the 80 per cent of the population in the Arabian Peninsula country.

The truce announcement came eight days after the UN declared Yemen a level-3 humanitarian emergency, the highest on its scale, with nearly half of the country’s regions facing a food crisis.

Yemen relies on imports but a near total blockade led by Saudi Arabia has slowed shipments to the Arabian Peninsula country to a trickle. The Arab coalition is inspecting shipments in a bid to thwart any arms deliveries to the Houthis.

“Full and unhindered access by humanitarian agencies to all parts of the country, including through sea and airports, should be ensured with a view to reaching people in need, including with essential medicines, vaccinations, food and water,” Mr Dujarric said.

Both sides largely observed a five-day humanitarian truce brokered by the UN in May.

The UN has raised Yemen to its highest level humanitarian crisis, placing it alongside emergencies in South Sudan, Syria and Iraq.

Meanwhile on Thursday, airstrikes by Saudi-led coalition warplanes killed 17 rebels in the second city of Aden, while Yemeni fighters allied with exiled Mr Hadi killed 15 rebels in the southern Abyan province, pro-Hadi military sources said.

* Reuters and Agence France-Presse


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