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US News War in Yemen: a cease-fire announced by the Saudi coalition

14:25  09 april  2020
14:25  09 april  2020 Source:   lepoint.fr

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yémen, cessez-le-feu, arabie saoudite © Provided by Le Point Yemen, cease-fire, Saudi Arabia

Faced with the spread of the coronavirus throughout the world, the military coalition led by Saudi Arabia, which intervenes in Yemen in support of government forces, announced, on Thursday, April 9, a two-week cease-fire. Violence has in fact recently increased in Yemen, a country ravaged by armed conflict, despite a call for a ceasefire promoted by the United Nations in March. There are currently no Covid-19 patients in the territory.

“We are announcing a cease-fire from Thursday for two weeks. We expect the Houthi (rebels) to accept. We are preparing the ground to fight Covid-19 disease, "said a Saudi official on Wednesday. The Iranian-backed Houthi rebels did not immediately react to the offer. The coalition firmly intends to respect these two weeks of ceasefire, while reserving the right to defend itself in the event of an attack, said the Saudi official. The ceasefire can be extended if the Houthis respond "positively" to the coalition's move, he added. The secretary general of the UN, Antonio Guterres, for his part welcomed the announcement of the military coalition, which "can help advance peace efforts as well as the country's response to the Covid-19 pandemic".

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Preserve in the face of the “fury” of the Covid-19

“It is only through dialogue that the parties can agree on a mechanism to maintain a cease-fire on a national scale” and on "resuming a political process to reach a comprehensive settlement" of the conflict, said Antonio Guterres in a statement. On March 23, he called for "an immediate ceasefire anywhere in the world" to preserve the most vulnerable civilians in war-torn countries in the face of Covid-19 "fury". He called on Wednesday "the government and the Houthis to engage, in good faith and without preconditions, in negotiations" facilitated by the special envoy of the UN for Yemen, Martin Griffiths. The latter for his part called the belligerents to "seize this opportunity and immediately cease all hostilities", in a statement.

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The war in Yemen has pitted local adversaries for five years, supported by rival regional powers. The government recognized by the international community, supported since 2015 by a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia, is fighting against the Houthis. Faced with the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, Yemen, the poorest country on the Arabian Peninsula, has so far registered no cases of infection with Covid-19 disease.

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Humanitarian organizations fear, however, a catastrophe if the country were affected by the new coronavirus. With a bloodless health system and a shortage of drinking water, Yemen has already been hit by epidemics like dengue or cholera. The war has left tens of thousands of people dead, mostly civilians, according to various NGOs, and about 24 million Yemenis, more than two-thirds of the population, are in need of humanitarian aid, according to the United Nations.

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