UN Announces Agreement on 72-Hour Yemen Ceasefire

A family eats breakfast outside their hut at a camp for people displaced by the war near Sana’a on Sept. 26, 2016. (File Photo)A family eats breakfast outside their hut at a camp for people displaced by the war near Sana’a on Sept. 26, 2016. (File Photo)

The warring parties in Yemen have agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire that is to take effect shortly before midnight Wednesday, the UN special envoy to Yemen announced on Monday.

A UN statement said Special Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed “welcomes the restoration of the Cessation of Hostilities, which will spare the Yemeni people further bloodshed and will allow for the expanded delivery of humanitarian assistance.”

Ahmed said he had received assurances from all Yemeni parties to cease hostilities at 11:59 p.m. Yemen time on Oct. 19 “for an initial period of 72 hours, subject to renewal”, AP reported.

The UN envoy said the warring factions had agreed to follow the terms and conditions of a temporary April ceasefire agreement. He hoped that the upcoming ceasefire would lead “to a permanent and lasting end to the conflict.”

Ahmed said the agreement obliges all parties “to allow free and unhindered access for humanitarian supplies and personnel” to all parts of Yemen.

The ceasefire agreement was announced a day after Ahmed met in London with US Secretary of State John Kerry and British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson as a flurry of diplomacy focused on the impoverished war-torn country.

“This is the time to implement a ceasefire unconditionally and then move to the negotiating table,” Kerry said after Sunday’s meeting.

More than 4,000 civilians have been killed and 3 million of the country’s 26 million people have been driven from their homes by the fighting. Hunger has become widespread in the Arab world’s poorest country.

The war in Yemen began in 2014 when Houthi fighters based in the north seized the capital Sana’a. In March 2015, Saudi Arabia and its Persian Gulf allies launched a campaign of airstrikes against the Houthis. The Saudi-led coalition and the United States are backing the fugitive president, Abd-Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who fled to Saudi Arabia after the uprising in 2015.

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