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UK, US join UN in supporting Saudi-led ceasefire in Yemen amid coronavirus pandemic

Attacks continued in Yemen even after the ceasefire was announced [Getty]

Date of publication: 10 April, 2020

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The United Kingdom and United States welcomed the Saudi-led military coalition's announcement of a two-week ceasefire in Yemen, as the war-torn country braces for a coronavirus epidemic.
The United Kingdom and United States on Thursday joined the United Nations in welcoming the Saudi-led military coalition's ceasefire in Yemen amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a bid to combat the spread of the coronavirus in the Arab world's poorest nation, the Riyadh-led coalition fighting Yemen's Houthi rebels declared a two-week ceasefire in the country, which began on Thursday.

Yemen recorded its first Covid-19 case on Friday.

The UN - which has repeatedly called for a ceasefire in Yemen amid the pandemic - expressed gratitude towards the coalition for "recognising and acting on this critical moment for Yemen".

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab stated the Saudi-led coalition's move is "an important step towards the permanent ceasefire Yemenis need".

"I urge the Government of Yemen and the Houthis to immediately cease all hostilities and engage constructively with these proposals," said Raab in a statement. "We must grasp this precious opportunity for peace in Yemen."

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised the coalition's "constructive response to the UN Secretary General's call for the parties to focus on countering the COVID-19 pandemic".

"We urge the Huthis to respond in kind to the coalition's initiative," said Pompeo.

Read more: Yemen in Focus: UN's lax approach 'emboldens Houthi violence'

The two-week ceasefire was aimed at creating "favourable conditions" for a UN-supervised meeting between the Riyadh-backed Yemeni government, the rebels and the coalition to pave the way for a permanent ceasefire in Yemen, coalition spokesman Turki al-Maliki said.

Saudi Arabia, the Yemeni government and the Houthi rebels had all welcomed an appeal from UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres for an "immediate global ceasefire" to help avert disaster for vulnerable people in conflict zones.

The country is already gripped by what the UN calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis. War-torn Yemen's broken health care system has also alarmed aid groups with regards to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Attacks continued even after the ceasefire was announced, as Yemen's government accused Houthi rebels of shelling residential areas.

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