Yemeni Nobel Peace Prize laureate and human rights activist Tawakkol Karman has called on Yemen’s warring factions to observe the terms of a recent ceasefire agreement, warning against humanitarian aid falling into the hands of the Shia Houthi militia.
"If the ceasefire [that came into effect on midnight Friday] is observed throughout Yemen – and in Taiz, Aden and Maarib in particular – and humanitarian aid is delivered to these cities without falling into the hands of the Houthis, it would help relieve the problems faced by Yemeni civilians," Karman told Anadolu Agency on Sunday.
She made the assertions amid reports that the ceasefire had been breached only hours after coming into force, with a Saudi-led coalition carrying out airstrikes in capital Sanaa and fierce clashes between the warring factions in Taiz, Yemen's third largest city.
"Otherwise [i.e., if it isn’t observed], the ceasefire will only serve to empower the Houthi militants and ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh, giving them an opportunity to kill more people," Karman asserted.
"We are hoping the terms of the ceasefire are adhered to, including a Houthi withdrawal from cities and the surrender of their weapons to the legitimate authorities," she added.
She also stressed the importance of implementing additional terms of the truce, such as holding a constitutional referendum and elections in line with the country’s new constitution.
"This is the only way to build a democracy and a sustainable peace process in Yemen," she concluded.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced on Thursday that all of Yemen’s political parties would commit to a humanitarian truce starting Friday – a measure expected to last until the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan on July 16.
Earlier Thursday, Ismail al-Sheikh, the UN’s special envoy to Yemen, said a humanitarian truce would begin in the war-torn country within the next 24 hours.
Yemen has remained in a state of chaos since last September, when the Shia Houthi militant group overran capital Sanaa.
Aden, the country’s commercial and economic capital, has also seen fierce fighting in recent months between Houthi militias and popular resistance committees loyal to Yemen’s embattled president, Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, who is currently in Saudi capital Riyadh.
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