(Riyadh) The Saudi-led military coalition, which intervenes in Yemen in support of government forces, will observe a cease-fire from Thursday in the country at war to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus , said a Saudi official on Wednesday.
France Media Agency
“We are announcing a cease-fire from (Thursday) for two weeks. We expect the (rebel) Houthis to accept it. We are preparing the ground to fight COVID disease – 19 “in Yemen, said the official.
According to him, the unilateral cease-fire will take effect on Thursday at 5 a.m. EST.
The Iranian-backed Houthi rebels did not react immediately to this offer.
The coalition has announced its commitment to respect the two-week ceasefire, while reserving the right to defend itself in the event of an attack, said the Saudi official.
The ceasefire can be prolonged if the Houthis respond “positively” to the coalition's gesture, he added.
On 23 March, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres launched an appeal “for an immediate cease-fire, everywhere in the world In order to preserve, in the face of the “fury” of COVID – 19, the most vulnerable civilians in countries in conflict.
The war in Yemen opposes local adversaries, supported by rival regional powers. The government recognized by the international community, supported since 2015 by a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia, fights against the Houthis.
Faced with the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, Yemen, the poorest country on the Arabian Peninsula, has so far recorded no cases of infection with COVID disease – 19.
But humanitarian organizations fear 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 fever and cholera.
The war has claimed tens of thousands of lives, mainly civilians, according to various NGOs, and around 24 million Yemenis, more than two third of the population, need humanitarian aid, according to the United Nations.