The ceasefire calls appear to have left Yemenis fighting the Houthi vulnerable to continued attacks
Saudi-led coalition announces unilateral two-week ceasefire; Houthis respond with their own plan
On Wednesday, the Saudi-led coalition announced a unilateral ceasefire in Yemen for at least two weeks, starting Thursday, April 9 at noon. The ceasefire is extendable, the coalition said.
The Houthis have not officially responded to the Saudi ceasefire announcement but shortly after it was reported, the rebels circulated a document outlining their conditions for a ceasefire and potential peace agreement with Saudi Arabia. The Houthi document made no mention of a ceasefire inside Yemen, as reports of Houthi shelling and missile attacks emerged in Marib and Hodeidah governorates Wednesday night.
The coalition said in a statement that it supports the Yemeni government’s decision to accept the UN’s call for a ceasefire in order to counter the spread of COVID-19.
There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Yemen, but the looming threat casts a long shadow over Yemen, which recently entered its sixth year of war. Yemen’s health infrastructure has been shattered, with coalition airstrikes bombing at least 70 health care facilities and other vital infrastructure in Yemen.
The Houthis, for their part, have shelled hospitals and health facilities and have been accused of using them as sniper positions.
Yemen’s health care facilities have already been tested with the world’s worst cholera outbreak in recorded history, not to mention malaria, dengue fever and overwhelmed malnutrition wards across the country as 80 percent of Yemen’s population requires humanitarian assistance.
UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths welcomed the Saudi-led coalition’s unilateral announcement of a ceasefire.
“I am grateful to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the 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 a comprehensive and sustainable peace.” A source in the UN envoy's office, who was not authorized to speak to the press, denied reports that the parties to the conflict had reached a ceasefire agreement, and told Almasdar Online that the UN envoy is continuing his efforts to reach a nationwide ceasefire agreement that is accountable with a package of economic and humanitarian measures, but the agreement has not yet been reached.
Saudi Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid Bin Salman said that the kingdom will not compromise its security, suggesting that retaliation is on the table if the Houthis break the ceasefire.
Editing by Ahlam Mohsen and Casey Coombs