Call for ceasefire in Yemen amid ‘war’ against COVID-19

May 8, 2020

In the race against the Coronavirus pandemic, the United Nations has called for a ceasefire in the war-torn country of Yemen. In yet another peace attempt, envoys of the five permanent members of the UN Security Councils to Yemen urged for a political truce in order to ensure undivided attention towards to COVID-19 battle.

The UN ambassadors held a virtual meeting with Yemen’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Al-Hadrami and a spokesperson for Houthis, Mohammed Abdul Salam, urging both sides to work towards ending hostilities and protect the citizens amid the global health crisis.

This is not the first time the UNSC has pressed the rival parties to commit to ending their conflict and fight the COVID-19 pandemic that is threatening to deepen the sufferings in the middle-eastern country. During a video conference with the UN Security Council on April 16, UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths had asserted that the country cannot afford to tackle two fronts – war and a global pandemic – at the same time in such trying time. Furthermore, as the virus outbreak started taking over countries across the world, UN Secretary-General António Guterres had also called for a global ceasefire to focus on protecting the population from the disease.

Following this call, the Saudi-led Yemen troops on April 8 announced a unilateral ceasefire for an initial period of two weeks. However, despite multiple appeals, hostilities continued on both sides. Five years of fighting between the Saudi-UAE-led military coalition and the Houthis rebellion has exhausted the health infrastructure of the country, leading to increasing vulnerabilities in the pandemic fight. Notably, efforts have been made by the UN of a de-escalation agreement between the two rival sides. However, continuous clashes are delaying the efforts of the fragile peace process.

Amid the world’s worst humanitarian crises, the country’s majority population has faced large scale internal displacement with thousands living under the shadow of international aid. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the UN had previously warned of a terrifying impact from the pandemic in the country. Apart from catastrophic shortages of medical equipment, the COVID-19 supplies in the country are also immensely limited. On April 10, Yemen’s first Coronavirus infection case was announced by the country’s Supreme National Emergency Committee, following which the cases have increased to 25 and 5 people have died from the disease (May 7).

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