News / Middle East
Saudi Arabia declares ceasefire in Yemen over coronavirus
The Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen has declared a two-week ceasefire in a bid to stem the spread of the coronavirus in the war-torn country
The ceasefire in the five-year conflict was set to begin Thursday, according to coalition spokesman Col. Turki al-Malki. SPA said the move was prompted by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' call for a pause of hostilities in the country in order to counter the spread of Covid-19.
The coronavirus has now infected more than 1.5 million people and killed over 88,000 worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Malki also said the temporary ceasefire would pave the way for talks between the Saudi-backed government in Aden, and Iran-backed Houthi rebels based in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa.
The UN welcomed Saudi Arabia's announcement. "I am grateful to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Arab Coalition for recognizing and acting on this critical moment for Yemen," Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, Martin Griffiths said in a UN statement Wednesday. "The parties must now utilize this opportunity and cease immediately all hostilities with the utmost urgency, and make progress towards comprehensive and sustainable peace"
A Houthi rebel spokesman said the group was working on a plan to end the war.