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In the news: Saudi Arabia announces Yemen ceasefire

Unilateral announcement comes after uptick in fighting and UN push for COVID-19 truce.

Yemenis carry food aid
Yemenis carry food aid delivered by local NGO Mona Relief on the outskirts of Sana'a, 5 May 2019. (Khaled Abdullah/REUTERS)

The Saudi Arabia-led coalition has declared a two-week ceasefire in Yemen, in a unilateral move that is set to go into effect Thursday.

It was not immediately clear if Houthi rebels, who have been fighting the coalition-backed internationally recognised government of Yemen for five years, would observe the truce. They were reportedly not consulted before the Wednesday night announcement, but on the same evening a senior Houthi figure posted on Twitter the details of his group’s plan to end the war. 

The news comes after an increase in fighting between the two sides, including recent Saudi airstrikes on the Houthi-controlled capital city of Sana’a and weekend shelling of a prison in the province of Taiz that reportedly killed at least five women and one child.  

The UN has been pushing for a cessation of hostilities to prevent the possible spread of COVID-19 (although Yemen had no confirmed cases as of 8 April), as well as the resumption of peace talks aimed at ending the war. In a statement, the coalition said confronting the pandemic was one of the motivations for the pause.

-Annie Slemrod

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