Yemen’s warring sides have agreed to a temporary halt in hostilities to allow desperately needed aid to reach civilians in the Arab world’s poorest country, the United Nations announced Thursday.
The “humanitarian pause” will take effect at 11:59 p.m. Friday and last about a week, until the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, according to a statement issued by the office of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Ban has received assurances from Yemen’s exiled President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, the Shiite Muslim rebels known as Houthis and other parties to the conflict that the combatants under their control will respect the truce, the statement said.
It also noted that Hadi has communicated his acceptance of the pause to the Saudi Arabia-led and U.S.-backed coalition of Arab states that has been carrying out airstrikes on behalf of his government “to ensure their support and collaboration.”
However, there was no immediate confirmation from the Saudi capital, Riyadh, of the coalition’s position.
The United Nations this month declared its highest-level humanitarian emergency in Yemen, where months of fighting have claimed the lives of more than 3,000 people, half of them civilians.
The violence together with a crippling air and sea blockade imposed by the coalition to prevent weapons from reaching the Houthis has caused what the U.N. calls a humanitarian catastrophe.
A five-day hiatus agreed to in May did not allow in nearly enough food, fuel and other supplies to meet the needs of the battered country’s 25 million people, according to aid agencies. They estimate 80% of the population is now in need of aid or protection.
SOURCE: ZAID AL-ALAYAA AND ALEXANDRA ZAVIS
The Los Angeles Times