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Yemen: UN-brokered temporary ceasefire comes into effect

Civilians have borne the brunt of the 18-month conflict [AFP]

Date of publication: 20 October, 2016

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A UN-brokered 72-hour ceasefire in Yemen came into effect on Wednesday night, after a day of heavy fighting and air raids, raising hopes of a more permanent truce.
A UN-brokered temporary ceasefire in Yemen came into effect on Wednesday night, after a day of heavy fighting and air raids.

The UN special envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, had announced on Monday that the cessation of hostilities would take effect "at 23:59 Yemen time on 19 October 2016, for an initial period of 72 hours, subject to renewal".

The Saudi-led coalition said it would respect the truce as long as Houthi rebels complied with the terms of the ceasefire.

Meanwhile, a military spokesman for the Houthi rebels on Wednesday night announced the group’s observance as long as the other side stopped their “aggression”.  

The ceasefire is the sixth attempt to end the bloodshed since a Saudi-led coalition intervened in March 2015 to support the government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi after rebels overran much of Yemen.

Civilians have paid the highest price in a country that was already the Arabian peninsula's poorest.

Over 10,000 people have been killed - more than half of them civilians - while another three million are displaced and millions more need food aid.

A United Nations report said airstrikes by the coalition were suspected of causing around half of all civilian deaths, while rebel-affiliated groups were responsible for about a quarter.

Clashes killed dozens of fighters across the country on Wednesday, including in combat near the Saudi border and around the rebel-held capital Sanaa, military sources said.

The UN's humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, on Wednesday told reporters he hopes the truce will provide a chance for aid workers to reach areas isolated by the fighting.

In spite of Wednesday's violence, Mustafa Alani, a senior adviser to the Gulf Research Centre, said the prospects for peace were growing.

"I am more optimistic, actually, because the environment is completely different from the previous one," he told AFP.

Saudi Arabia and Washington accuse Iran of arming the rebels, charges Tehran denies.

Numerous analysts question the extent of Tehran's influence over the Houthis, a minority group which fought six wars against Yemen's government from 2004 to 2010.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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