On Wednesday 8 April, Saudi Arabia announced a two-week ceasefire in Yemen.
The news follows UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s call for all parties in Yemen to immediately cease hostilities and do everything possible to counter a potential coronavirus outbreak.
The UK supports the recent call from UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths for all Yemeni parties to engage in urgent political talks to de-escalate the conflict and work towards a comprehensive, sustainable peace agreement.
We are also providing life-saving UK aid to help those in desperate need and to mitigate the dreadful prospect of coronavirus exacerbating Yemen’s dire humanitarian crisis.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said:
This is an important step towards the permanent ceasefire Yemenis need.
I urge the Government of Yemen and the Houthis to immediately cease all hostilities and engage constructively with these proposals. We must grasp this precious opportunity for peace in Yemen.
- The ceasefire was agreed under the direction of His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and was accompanied by a statement from UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths welcoming the announcement.
- UN Secretary General António Guterres issued a statement on 25 March, which urged the parties in Yemen to immediately cease hostilities, focus on reaching a negotiated settlement and do everything possible to counter a potential outbreak of COVID-19. This followed Guterres’ call on 24 March for an end to conflicts around the world amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Foreign Secretary visited the region in March and met Yemeni President Hadi to reiterate the UK’s support for the UN-led process. The UK continues to lead on Yemen in the UN Security Council and funds efforts by the UN Special Envoy to ensure the peace process involves marginalised groups, including women and young people.
- Restrictions on humanitarian access, particularly in Houthi-controlled areas, as well as the beginning of the cholera season and the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak would further worsen the humanitarian situation. The UK is clear that humanitarian aid must not be used as a political tool and calls on all parties to comply with UN Security Council Resolution 2451 by facilitating safe, rapid, and unhindered access for the humanitarian response. The UK has committed £770 million to support Yemen since the conflict began in 2015 and provided over £200 million in funding over the 2019/2020 financial year.
- The SAFER oil tanker anchored off the coast of Yemen poses a major environmental threat. In accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2511, the Houthis must immediately facilitate access for the UN to conduct an assessment and essential maintenance.