Saudi Arabia to extend unilateral ceasefire in Yemen

The Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen will extend a unilateral ceasefire set to end today amid efforts to prevent the

Houthi rebels outside of Sanaa

Photo: Hani Al-Ansi/dpa

The Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen will extend a unilateral ceasefire set to end today amid efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the war-torn country.

Yemen has been mired in conflict since 2014, which has pushed the country to the brink of famine and devastated its healthcare facilities. Now, aid groups fear that further conflict could cause a widespread outbreak among a severely malnourished population.

The Iran-aligned Houthi movement that is the coalition’s primary adversary in Yemen has recently pushed into northern areas of al-Jawf and Ma’rib governorates. These victories are likely to embolden the rebel group to ignore Saudi Arabia’s ceasefire efforts. The Houthis previously rejected a two-week ceasefire and hinged future cooperation on the lifting of air and sea blockades against Houthi-controlled cities of Sanaa and Hodeida. However, the Saudi government is unlikely to lift the blockades for fear of the Houthi group receiving weapons from abroad. In the absence of a ceasefire, widespread COVID-19 and cholera outbreaks—exacerbated by recent floods—will increase stress on Yemen’s facilities and lead to further devastating health outcomes.

Wake up smarter with an assessment of the stories that will make headlines in the next 24 hours. Download The Daily Brief.