UN, Yemeni groups mull possible Ramadan humanitarian ceasefire

Published July 4th, 2015 - 11:59 GMT
Children carry supplies handed out by UNICEF outside the Yemeni capital Sanaa. Heavy airstrikes and ground fighting across the country have made it extremely difficult for humanitarian aid to reach Yemen's civilians. (AFP/File)
Children carry supplies handed out by UNICEF outside the Yemeni capital Sanaa. Heavy airstrikes and ground fighting across the country have made it extremely difficult for humanitarian aid to reach Yemen's civilians. (AFP/File)

Yemen’s rebel Houthi movement said Saturday they are discussing with the UN a possible ceasefire to last until the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan to allow much-needed deliveries of humanitarian aid into the country. 

Mohammad Abdul Salam, spokesman for the Shiite rebel movement, said in a Facebook post he had consulted with UN special envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheickh Friday on the possibility of a ceasefire, Reuters reported.

The UN envoy is also pushing for the humanitarian pause with members of the pro-Hadi government in Saudi Arabia, sources told Reuters. 

“The details are still unclear in terms of a starting date and duration of a humanitarian pause; however the special envoy believes that there is ground for optimism that the parties will agree in the coming days,” UN spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said Friday.

Parties to the conflict largely held to a previous five-day humanitarian ceasefire in May.

Houthi fighters captured the Yemeni capital Sanaa in September 2014 before expanding their reach southward and westward, pushing President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi to the southern port city Aden. 

The beleaguered president fled to neighboring Saudi Arabia in March as the kingdom began an intense air campaign alongside a coalition of Arab states against Houthi positions across Yemen.

Food, water, and fuel shortages in already poverty-stricken Yemen have left civilians struggling to cope with both airstrikes and ground fighting between various militia groups.  The UN estimates that 80 percent of the population, some 20 million people, are in need of humanitarian aid. 


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