Yemen official slams 'Houthi shelling' hours before coronavirus ceasefire

Yemen official slams 'Houthi shelling' hours before new coronavirus ceasefire went into effect
2 min read
09 April, 2020
Houthi rebels indifferent to coronavirus risks, Yemen's information minister has said, after the rebels broke a ceasefire.
Yemen has no confirmed coronavirus cases to date [AFP]
Yemen's government accused Houthi rebels on Thursday of shelling residential areas, just hours before a two-week ceasefire comes into effect, in a bid to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"[The] Houthi militia responds to ceasefire calls by [the] Arab coalition with shelling residential areas in Marib and Al-Hodaydah provinces," said Moammar Al-Eryani, Yemen's minister of information, in a tweet early Thursday. 

In hefty remarks, Eryani claimed the attack "confirmed" the Houthi rebels' "indifference" to peace, and reflected a lack of consideration about the risks of the coronavirus outbreak. 

The unilateral ceasefire - which came into effect at 9am GMT - was announced the day before by Saudi Arabia, the leader of the military coalition fighting against Yemen's Houthi rebels.

Yemen, which has not yet announced confirmed coronavirus cases, has seen an uptick in violent attacks as of late.

On Sunday, Houthis targeted a women's prison in an attack that killed at least five women and a child.

Attacks continued even after the ceasefire was announced for Thursday, despite repeated calls by the United Nations to halt shellings in Yemen as it braces for the pandemic. Accusations of attacks came from both sides.

Eryani said the UN Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths - involved in virtual consultations held with the two clashing parties in attempts to halt fire – was "fully responsible" for the escalation.

"We call for a serious international stance to protect civilian and stop the targeting of residential areas," the Yemeni offical said.

Later on Thursday, Griffiths met with Yemen’s Vice President Ali Mohsen Saleh al-Ahmar, the country's state news agency, Saba, reported.

Al-Ahmar said President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi had instructed Yemen's government to adhere to the ceasefire agreement called for by the UN. 

Read more: How has coronavirus impacted conflicts in the Middle East? 

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