Yemen ceasefire agreed

United Nations Secretary General António Guterres announced on Thursday that a ceasefire has been agreed in the vital port city of Hodeidah, the entry point for 80 per cent of the country’s food and medicine.

The Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels agreed at talks in Sweden to a series of measures including a ceasefire in Hodeidah, a withdrawal of forces from Hodeidah, a cease-fire in the surrounding provinces, a prisoner exchange and opening humanitarian corridors. The UN estimates that 57,000 people have died since the beginning of the conflict and that 24 million people, around 75% of the population, will require humanitarian assistance in 2019.

The UN Secretary General told the Yemeni delegations: “You have reached an agreement on Hodeidah which will see a mutual redeployment of forces and the establishment of a governorate-wide ceasefire. The UN will play a leading role and facilitate aid access for the civilian population.” He added that the talks were the biggest step toward peace in years for a war that has produced the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. He said that the next round of talks would take place at the end of January.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt travelled to Sweden for the final day of the UN peace talks yesterday. He met with the UN’s Yemen envoy, Martin Griffiths, and the delegations of both the Government of Yemen and the Houthis. After his visit the Foreign Secretary said: “Today’s agreement in Stockholm between the Yemeni Government and the Houthis is an important step towards ending the conflict in Yemen – the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today. I urged both sides to seize this opportunity and reach agreements which can alleviate the dreadful suffering of the Yemeni people and bring us closer to ending this horrific war.”

The US Senate voted yesterday to withdraw American military assistance for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. However, the non-binding “war powers resolution”, which calls upon President Trump to remove all American forces engaging in hostilities in Yemen, except for those combating Islamist extremists, is seen as largely symbolic and unlikely to become law.