RIYADH: The Arab coalition fighting to restore the legitimate Yemeni government has announced a two-week ceasefire in Yemen which will start at midday on Thursday (local time), Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
Coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki said the coalition “supported the Yemeni government’s decisions to accept the call of the United Nation's secretary-general for a ceasefire in Yemen to face the consequences of the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and the invitation of the
Mohamed AlJabir, Saudi Ambassador to Yemen, said the ceasefire is meant to pave the way for representatives of the Yemeni government, Houthis and a Coalition military team to discuss the UN envoy's proposals for a permanent ceasefire in Yemen and confidence-building measures.
UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths, for a ceasefire and a de-escalation, and to take practical steps to build confidence between the two parties in a humanitarian and economic aspect."Griffiths welcomed the coalition's unilateral ceasefire announcement.
“I am grateful to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Arab 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 comprehensive and sustainable peace,” he said in a statement issued by his office in Amman, Jordan. Al-Maliki said that due to the seriousness and desire of the coalition to "create appropriate conditions to conclude and succeed the efforts of the UN envoy to Yemen and to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people and work to confront the coronavirus pandemic and prevent it from spreading," the coalition announced a comprehensive ceasefire in Yemen for a period of two weeks, starting from 12 p.m. on Thursday.
This period, he added, is extendable with the aim of creating conditions for implementing Griffith's invitation to hold a meeting between the legitimate government and the Iran-backed Houthi militia, and a military team from the coalition under the UN envoy's supervision to discuss his proposals on steps and mechanisms to implement a permanent ceasefire In Yemen, steps to build human and economic confidence, and the resumption of the political process between the Yemeni parties to reach consultations between towards a comprehensive political solution.
Col. Al-Maliki added that the coalition is looking for an opportunity to join all efforts to reach a comprehensive and lasting ceasefire in Yemen, and agree on serious, concrete and direct steps to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people and will greatly support all these basic steps with the UN, in order to reach a comprehensive and just political solution agreed by the Yemenis.
Prince Khalid bin Salman, Saudi Arabia's deputy minister of defense, said the two-week ceasefire "will hopefully create a more effective climate to de-escalate tensions."
It will give the parties a chance to work with the UN envoy in Yemen in carrying out steps to ease the suffering of Yemenis and protect them from the spreading COVID-19 disease, he said.
"The Kingdom has always been committed to reaching a comprehensive political settlement in Yemen and based on our responsibility to bring stability to the region at such a critical time, the Coalition to restore legitimacy in Yemen has declared a two-week long ceasefire initiative," Prince Khalid tweeted.
Yemen has no reported COVID-19 cases so far, but is feared to be particularly vulnerable to an outbreak in view of its weak health care system and high incidence of poverty and malnutrition.
To help the Yemenis, Saudi Arabia will contribute $500 Million to the UN Humanitarian Response Plan for the country in 2020, plus $25 million to help combat the #COVID19 pandemic, Prince Khalid said on Wednesday.
"It is up to Houthis to put the health and safety of the Yemeni people above all else," he said.
Adel Al-Jubeir, Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs, expressed hope that the two-week ceasefire will facilitate direct talks called by the UN envoy to Yemen between the Yemeni government representatives, the Houthis and military representatives from the coalition to work with the United Nations for a "comprehensive and lasting ceasefire agreement".
In a tweet, Al-Jubeir also said the Kingdom's $525 million for Yemen is a continuation of the economic and humanitarian aid it had been giving to its southern neighbor.
"KSA has supported Yemen for decades, increasing its economic and humanitarian aid to end the suffering of Yemenis since the beginning of the crisis," he said in a tweet.