With ceasefire in place, Yemen's UN-led peace talks kick off in Geneva

Published December 15th, 2015 - 12:28 GMT
Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the UN Special Envoy to Yemen, announced the ceasefire earlier today. (AFP/File)
Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the UN Special Envoy to Yemen, announced the ceasefire earlier today. (AFP/File)

The UN special envoy for Yemen on Tuesday announced a cease-fire in the country before peace talks began in Switzerland on Tuesday.

"The Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed announces the start of a cessation of hostilities in Yemen and considers it a critical first step towards building a lasting peace in the country," the UN said in a statement on Tuesday.

A cease-fire in Yemen which was planned to start at Monday midnight local time, was postponed to this morning due to growing signs of mutual mistrust.

More than 20 people were killed in Yemen a day before the peace talks in Switzerland.

Ahmed urged "all parties to respect this initiative and work towards establishing a comprehensive and permanent end to the conflict".

Yemen fell into chaos in September 2014, when the Shia Houthi militant group overran the capital Sanaa. 

Officials from the Yemeni government and the Houthis will participate in talks to establish a permanent cease-fire.

Both parties have 12 members and six advisers for talks in Switzerland. The government’s delegation is led by Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdel-Malek al-Mekhlafi while Houthi spokesman, Mohammed Abdel Salam, will head his committee in the talks. 

The UN noted on Monday that the talks will be held "at an undisclosed location".

The talks are expected to last one week, but the time frame remains flexible and can be extended if necessary.

Previous Yemen peace talks held in Geneva in June failed to result in even a short term cease-fire agreement. 

On March 26, Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies launched airstrikes against the Shia Houthi militant group in Yemen.

In April, the Shia militia managed to capture Yemen’s Aden province, from which President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi was forced to flee to Saudi Arabia.

More than 2.3 million people have been forced to flee their homes and 21.2 million people in Yemen are in need of humanitarian aid which is almost entire population.

At least 5,800 people - nearly half of them civilians - have been killed in the ongoing conflict in Yemen since March.

By Fatih Erel


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