Ceasefire in Yemen to go into effect ahead of peace talks

Ceasefire in Yemen is expected between warring parties ahead of talks in Switzerland starting next week

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi has told UN on Monday that he requested from the Saudi-led coalition to kick off a 7-day ceasefire beginning from Dec.15 amid a UN backed peace talk to end violence in the war-torn country. 

The conflict in Yemen, which started in September last year, has so far resulted in the deaths of at least 6,000 people.

"I informed the coalition's leadership that we intend to start a ceasefire for 7 days, from December 15th to 21st, in conjunction with the consultations," President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi said in a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

"It will be renewed automatically in case of compliance from the other side," Hadi said.

Hadi also hoped the Houthis would respect the truce or the coalition "will be forced to deal with any violation of the ceasefire."

The special envoy of the United Nations to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, said that the Iranian-backed Houthi militias and the exiled government of Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi are committed to the peace initiative which was laid down by the Security Council last April.

United Nations resolution number 2216 called on the warring sides in Yemen to end the conflict in the country and agree on a political transition, and demanded that the Houthis retreat from areas they have captured since the start of the conflict.

"We are hoping to have a ceasefire starting immediately with the talks, but in order to consolidate that and to make it a lasting and long-term and final ceasefire we need to discuss that," added.

Houthis allied to forces which back former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh have captured several Yemeni cities - including the Yemeni capital of Sanaa - in fighting with pro-Hadi forces backed by Saudi-led coalition air strikes and ground forces.  

Previous negotiations mediated by the UN have failed to bring the war in Yemen to an end, but Hadi told the UN envoy that his government is ready this time to commit to a ceasefire with the Yemeni rebels with the support of the Saudi-led coalition.

"But definitely the [Saudi-led] coalition is on board and the coalition will ensure all necessary support to make sure that the ceasefire will be holding," he added.

However, an official from Hadi's government said that the Houthis have approved the proposed agenda for the talks.

"The Houthis have approved the agenda blueprint," an official in Hadi's office told Reuters. "Within days a humanitarian ceasefire will be declared and steps to free prisoners and lifting the siege on the cities would begin."

Hadi had to flee Yemen in March as Iranian backed Houthi militias captured most of the country after dissolving the parliament.

A Saudi-led coalition launched air strikes against Houthis in late March and pro-Hadi forces retook Aden in July.

Over 32,000 casualties have been reported in the on-going civil war in Yemen, with about 5,700 killed in mid-March, including 830 women and children, according to UN.

Currently, 82 percent of Yemen’s population is in desperate need of humanitarian aid to meet their basic needs or protect their fundamental rights, including security and safety of civilians and provision of essential services.

TRTWorld and agencies