A Saudi-led coalition of seven Gulf states fighting Houthis, Iran-allied rebels, announced a 48-hour ceasefire in Yemen. The ceasefire is officially in effect; it started at noon local time (9 GMT) on Saturday according to the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
The truce will be extended if the Houthi movement shows commitment to it and if the group allows humanitarian aid into areas under siege, said the SPA.
The conflict in Yemen has been going on since March 2015 and has killed thousands. The Saudi-led coalition supports Yemen’s exiled president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and aims to restore him to power by fighting Houthi rebels and forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
— OCHA Yemen (@OCHAYemen) November 16, 2016
There have been previous efforts to establish ceasefires in Yemen, six to be exact. But they have failed, most recently on Thursday. US Secretary of State John Kerry’s announcement of a temporary ceasefire between the Arab coalition and Houthis was rejected by the Yemeni government who said it would not negotiate with Houthis. The fighting continued.
"Usually a ceasefire is supposed to be for humanitarian aid and to have access for us to areas suffered most by the clashes, but we are not sure whether this truce will hold," Baaran Shiban, a London-based human rights worker, told Al Jazeera.
Medical humanitarian organisation Doctors Without Borders (MSF) reported on Thursday– the same day Kerry called for a truce– that “76 war-wounded patients were admitted to MSF-managed or supported emergency rooms in Taiz on both sides of the front-line”. MSF said, "Twenty-one people were dead on arrival.”
“Coalition forces will abide by the ceasefire,” the statement by the SPA said, but warned Houthis against making any military moves which would be countered.
The UN has reported that the 20-month conflict has killed seven thousand people and injured a further thirty-seven thousand.