Temporary Truce in Yemen

Temporary Truce in YemenTemporary Truce in Yemen

Yemen's warring factions confirmed their agreement on Thursday to a temporary humanitarian ceasefire set to begin on Friday night, United Nations envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said.

The pause in the fighting will last about a week until the end of the holy month of Ramadan and aims to allow the delivery of assistance to some of the 21 million Yemenis in need, Reuters reported.

The UN has worked intensively to broker a ceasefire to halt more than three months of many-sided fighting inside the country and Saudi-led airstrikes that have killed more than 3,000 people.

"For the humanitarian pause … we have assurances from all the parties and we are quite optimistic it will be respected," Ould Cheikh Ahmed said from Ethiopia, after finishing discussions in the Yemeni capital Sana'a.

"We have agreed to go ahead, based on two major points. The first is the commitment of all parties not to violate this ceasefire, this humanitarian pause. The second is that humanitarian assistance can reach all parts of Yemen."

A five-day truce brokered by the UN in May was largely observed by all factions. The UN has raised Yemen to its highest level humanitarian crisis, placing it alongside emergencies in South Sudan, Syria and Iraq.

Relief agencies say the fighting and a near-blockade imposed by a Saudi-led coalition of Arab countries have caused a humanitarian disaster in Yemen, with over 80% of its 25 million people now needing some form of emergency aid.

Rights groups have also condemned blockades on supplies headed for war-torn civilian areas.

Saudi Aggression Continues

Fighting continued in Yemen on Thursday as forces loyal to the country's fugitive president Abd-Rabbuh Mansour Hadi attacked positions in the southern Abyan Province, killing at least 15 people.

Saudi warplanes also killed 17 people in the port city of Aden on Thursday, according to witnesses.

On Tuesday, a car bomb was detonated near a hospital and a mosque in Sana'a, killing many people. At least ten people died in an explosion in Al-Bayda the same day.

Hadi, in exile in Saudi Arabia, has asked the UN for "guarantees" to help the truce succeed, which include prisoner releases by the Houthis and withdrawals from vast areas where it is battling local fighters.

Implementing more thorny political points, the envoy said, would not happen immediately and required more discussion, but the Houthis have released a top pro-Hadi politician in Sana'a and allowed the shipment of 50 aid trucks to the embattled southern city of Aden to buttress the truce.

A senior western diplomat said the intensity of battles raging nationwide would render a swift calm difficult.

"It is still going to be a challenge to have this call heeded within the next 24 hours because of the entrenched fighting on the ground," the diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The Saudi-led alliance has been bombing Yemen since March 26 to restore Hadi to power and repel Houthi forces. The Houthis, who took control of Sana'a last September, had previously said they welcomed any ceasefire.

Al-Qaeda Threat

There are fears the turmoil will strengthen Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the deadliest branch of the global militant group.

The newly appointed leader of Al-Qaeda’s Yemen branch called for attacks on the United States, as the UN announced the start of a weeklong truce in the war-ravaged country.

“All of you must direct and gather your arrows and swords against it,” the US-based SITE monitoring group quoted Qassim al-Raymi as saying in an audio recording posted on social media.

It said he was referring to the US. The recorded speech was his first since taking over after the death of Nasser al-Wuhayshi.