The Saudi-led coalition announced on Friday that it would extend the unilateral ceasefire in Yemen by one month to support efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic, the Saudi news agency reported ( SPA), quoting a spokesperson for the coalition.
A two-week ceasefire announced by the coalition fighting the Iranian-aligned Houthi group in Yemen expired on Thursday without leading to a permanent truce.
The Houthi group did not accept the previous announcement of a coalition ceasefire and violence has continued in several provinces, raising fears that the war will continue and overwhelm the already weakened capacity of the Yemen to fight the coronavirus. The Houthis ousted the internationally recognized government, backed by Saudi Arabia, from power in the capital, Sanaa, in late 2014. They want the coalition’s air and sea blockades lifted to regions they control before accepting a ceasefire, sources told Reuters. .
“The coalition command reaffirms that it is still possible to concentrate all efforts to achieve a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire,” said coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Maliki, quoted by the SPA.
Last month, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for ceasefires in conflicts around the world to allow countries to focus on the COVID-19 pandemic.
While Yemen has reported only one confirmed case of a new coronavirus, aid groups fear a catastrophic epidemic if the virus spreads among an acutely malnourished population in a country without adequate testing capabilities.