Yemen’s warring parties welcomed a United Nations call for an immediate truce on Thursday as the country entered its sixth year of a conflict that has unleashed a humanitarian crisis, rendering it more vulnerable to any coronavirus outbreak, APA reports citing Reuters.
A Saudi-led military coalition said late on Wednesday that it backed the Yemeni government’s acceptance of the U.N. appeal. Their foe, the Iran-aligned Houthi movement, welcomed that stance but said it wants to see implementation on the ground.
The new coronavirus has yet to be documented in the impoverished Arabian peninsula nation where conflict violence has killed more than 100,000 and left millions on the brink of starvation.
Following his call for a global ceasefire to focus on combating the coronavirus pandemic, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday urged Yemen’s parties to end hostilities and restart peace talks last held in December 2018.
The Sunni Muslim coalition, which intervened in Yemen in March 2015, supports efforts for a ceasefire, de-escalation, confidence-building measures and work to prevent a coronavirus outbreak, spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki said in a statement.
“The coalition’s announcement ... is welcome. We are waiting for it to be applied practically,” a senior Houthi official, Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, tweeted late on Wednesday.
Yemen had witnessed a lull in military action after Saudi Arabia and the Houthis launched back-channel talks late last year. But there has been a recent spike in violence that threatens fragile peace deals in vital port cities.
“We have a global coronavirus pandemic threatening to overwhelm an already broken health care system,” said Tamuna Sabadze, country director at the International Rescue Committee, adding that Yemen is already battling a large cholera outbreak.