ADEN – Yemen’s war parties welcome a call by the U.N. for an immediate doubt on Thursday as the country enters its sixth year of a conflict that has lifted a humanitarian crisis, making it vulnerable to any coronavirus outbreaks.
A Saudi-led military coalition said on Wednesday that it had supported the Yemeni government’s acceptance of the U.N. appeal. Their opponent, the Iranian movement aligned with the Houthi, has accepted that stance but said it wants to see ground enforcement.
Meanwhile, the Agency for International Development (USAID) said it had begun reducing aid to areas controlled by the Houthis, with concerns that the group was preventing the delivery of aid, a spokesman told Reuters.
The new coronavirus has not been documented in the poor country of the Arabian peninsula where fighting violence has killed more than 100,000 and left millions on the brink of starvation.
Following his call for a global ceasefire dedicated to suppressing pandemics, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday advised to end Yemeni parties and restart the peace talks that were last held in December 2018.
The Sunni Muslim coalition, which intervened in Yemen in March 2015, is supporting efforts for a ceasefire, de-escalation, confidence-building measures and work to prevent coronavirus outbreaks, a spokesman said. Colonel Turki al-Malki in a statement.
“The coalition’s announcement … is welcome. We look forward to applying it in practical terms,” an old Houthi official Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, tweeted late Wednesday.
Yemen has witnessed a senseless military action after Saudi Arabia and the Houthis launched back-channel talks last year. But there has been a recent spike in violence threatening fragile peace deals in key port cities.
“We have a global pandemic of coronavirus that threatens to repair a damaged health care system,” Tamuna Sabadze, country director of the International Rescue Committee, added that Yemen is fighting a major cholera outbreak.
Yemen has been nervous about the conflict since the Houthis ousted the government from the capital, Sanaa, in late 2014. The group still controlled most of the major urban centers despite the wars.
Millions rely on humanitarian aid in Yemen, but aid agencies in recent months have increasingly complained of disruption and hindrance from Houthi authorities and threatened to reduce aid if conditions do not improve.
“The Houthis have failed to show sufficient progress toward ending unacceptable interruptions in these operations,” a USAID spokesman said, adding that it would continue to support the most urgent assistance in providing Save life.
“The coronavirus crisis is now showing more than ever the need for our partners to deliver help to those who need it without interruption or delay.”
Aid agency Oxfam warned that USAID’s strategy could jeopardize an effective response to the coronavirus, “leaving Yemen unique among the deadliest pandemics in generations,” it said in a statement.
The head of the Houthi political office on Wednesday said the motion was open to de-escalation efforts with its opponents, including the release of prisoners.
Mahdi al-Mashat, in comments brought by al-Masirah TV, ordered the release of all members of the House of faith detained by the Houthis, including Hamed bin Haydara whose death penalty was imposed on more earlier this week a court of Sanaa.
The Flood welcomed the International Community with the verdict, saying it in a statement applied to six people who were “wrongfully imprisoned” for religious beliefs.
It said the order should lead to the rise of charges made in 2018 against nearly 20 members of the faith, which is about the founder of the 19th century as a prophet. Muslim countries, including Iran where the sect came from, consider it an heretical offhoot of Islam.
Amnesty International said the move to release Flood survivors was a “positive signal,” especially in light of the coronavirus.
“We repeat our call to all parties to the conflict and immediately and unconditionally release all those detained solely for their peaceful activism, expression or political views,” said Amnesty Middle East Research Director Lynn Maalouf. (Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari, Nayera Abdullah and Lisa Barrington; Writing by Ghaida Ghantous; Editing by Nick Macfie)