UN welcomes ceasefire in Yemen

The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres welcomes the announcement by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, on behalf of the “Coalition to Support Legitimacy in Yemen”, of a unilateral ceasefire in Yemen.

This can help to advance efforts towards peace as well as the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Guterres calls upon the Government of Yemen and Ansar Allah to follow through on their commitment to immediately cease hostilities. I also call on the Government and the Houthis to engage with each other, in good faith and without preconditions, in negotiations facilitated by my Special Envoy Martin Griffiths.

“Only through dialogue will the parties be able to agree on a mechanism for sustaining a nation-wide ceasefire, humanitarian and economic confidence-building measures to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people, and the resumption of the political process to reach a comprehensive settlement to end the conflict,” Guterres said.

Furthermore, The Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, welcomes the announcement by the Joint Forces Command of a two-week unilateral ceasefire covering all ground, maritime and air operations in Yemen starting 9 April. The announcement comes in support of the UN’s peace process and the UN Secretary-General’s call for a nationwide ceasefire in order to avert the grave risks of a COVID-19 outbreak.

“I am grateful to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Arab Coalition for recognizing and acting on this critical moment for Yemen. The parties must now utilize this opportunity and cease immediately all hostilities with the utmost urgency, and make progress towards comprehensive and sustainable peace” said Mr. Griffiths.

The Special Envoy has been mediating between the parties to reach agreements on a nation-wide ceasefire, humanitarian and economic measures that will bring tangible relief to the people of Yemen, and the resumption of the political process to comprehensively end the war. The Special Envoy hopes and expects that the Coalition’s ceasefire announcement will create a conducive environment for the parties to conclude these agreements in the very near future.

Saudi Arabia on Wednesday announced that the kingdom and its allies would observe a unilateral cease-fire in the war in Yemen starting at noon on Thursday, a move that could pave the way for ending the brutal five-year-old conflict.

Saudi officials said the cease-fire sought to jump-start peace talks brokered by the United Nations and had been motivated by fears of the coronavirus spreading in Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab world, where the health care system has been ravaged by years of blockade and conflict.

The cease-fire, the Saudi officials said, would last for two weeks and include Saudi Arabia’s Arab allies and the internationally recognized Yemeni government.

The Houthis were not consulted before the cease-fire was announced, Saudi officials said, speaking on condition that they not be identified by name, and the kingdom reserved the right to respond if the Houthis fired missiles into Saudi territory.

Shortly before the Saudi announcement, a senior Houthi official, Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, posted a detailed, eight-page plan to end the war on his Twitter account, raising questions about whether the warring parties were competing to appear more interested in peace than their enemies.