Yemen's president agrees to 72-hour ceasefire

UN Special Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said the cessation of hostilities would begin on Wednesday night and could be renewed after the initial three-day period.

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Children play amid the rubble of a house destroyed by a Saudi-led airstrike in Sanaa, Yemen.

Updated Oct 18, 2016

A 72-hour ceasefire in Yemen is due to start on Wednesday night, the UN envoy for Yemen said on Monday after he received commitments from all of the country's warring factions.

Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said the cessation of hostilities would begin at 2359 local time (2059 GMT) on Wednesday and could be renewed after the initial three-day period, the United Nations said in statement.

"The Special Envoy welcomes the restoration of the Cessation of Hostilities, which will spare the Yemeni people further bloodshed and will allow for the expanded delivery of humanitarian assistance," the statement said.

Earlier on Monday, Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdel-Malek al-Mekhlafi said on his official Twitter feed that President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi had agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire with the possibility of it being extended.

The De-escalation and Coordination Committee (DCC) is the United Nations-backed military commission responsible for overseeing ceasefires in Yemen.

Yemen's information minister tweeted that Hadi would meet with Ahmed to determine a start date for the truce.

Hadi's exiled government has been requesting humanitarian access for Taiz, a divided city largely encircled by the Houthi rebels who overran Yemen's capital Sanaa in 2014.

Government forces maintain control of only one of four access routes.

The Iranian-aligned Houthis and their allies, forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, hold most of Yemen's northern half, while forces loyal to the Saudi-backed Hadi share control of the rest of the country with local tribes.

A hole is seen during a visit by human rights activists to a community hall that was struck by an airstrike during a funeral on October 8, in Sanaa, Yemen, October 16, 2016

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on Monday that Saudi Arabia was prepared to accept a ceasefire if the Houthis agreed to one, but that he was sceptical about peace efforts after previous ceasefire attempts had failed.

Saudi Arabia and several Gulf Arab allies have carried out air strikes and deployed troops in Yemen in support of Hadi's government since March 2015.

Some 10,000 people, including 3,800 civilians, have been killed in the conflict, according to UN estimates.