Yemen: UN chief welcomes announcement of humanitarian ceasefire
The pause will commence on Friday, 10 July, to permit humanitarian actors to reach civilians in need and its acceptance was conveyed by Yemen's President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi to the Secretary-General in a letter earlier this week.
Likewise, Mr. Ban has also received assurances through his Special Envoy on Yemen, Ould Cheikh Ahmed, from the Houthis, the General People's Congress and other parties that the pause will be “fully respected and that there will be no violations from any combatants under their control.”
“It is imperative and urgent that humanitarian aid can reach all vulnerable people of Yemen unimpeded and through an unconditional humanitarian pause,” the Secretary-General's Spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric, told reporters at UN Headquarters this afternoon, ahead of a statement issued by his Office.
“Full and unhindered access by humanitarian agencies to all parts of the country, including through sea and airports, should be ensured with a view to reaching people in need, including with essential medicines, vaccinations, food and water,” the statement added.
According to the latest UN data, the humanitarian crisis in Yemen has been steadily deteriorating since the outbreak of fighting in late March 2015.
In the past three months alone, some 3,000 Yemenis have been killed, half of them civilians, and 14,000 injured. Over a million people have had to flee their homes and 21 million need immediate help, close to 13 million people are unable to meet their food needs, 15 million people have no healthcare and outbreaks of dengue and malaria are raging unchecked.
Humanitarian partners have reached 4.4 million people with aid in the past three months, but this is a fraction of those in need, says the UN Spokesperson. The United Nations, the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement and international non-governmental organizations working together have now activated the highest level of emergency response.
The first pause in the hostilities took place in mid-May.
“The Secretary-General reminds the parties to the conflict of their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians and calls on all sides to contribute to preventing a humanitarian catastrophe in the country,” continued the statement.
The UN spokesperson added that Mr. Ban was “grateful” for Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed's ongoing efforts to engage with all Yemeni stakeholders to take confidence-building steps towards a durable cease-fire and develop a mechanism for the withdrawal of forces, release of political prisoners and the resumption of an inclusive political process.
In mid-June, Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed facilitated in Geneva a round of consultations among key Yemeni stakeholders.
These measures, he said, would ultimately form part of subsequent agreements which will require further consultations.
“The Secretary-General encourages all parties to the conflict to extend their full cooperation and support to his Special Envoy on the way forward,” the statement concluded. “The Secretary-General firmly believes that the only sustainable solution to the conflict in Yemen is through peaceful and all-inclusive political dialogue and negotiations.”