Ceasefire declared by Saudi-led coalition goes into effect in Yemen
Nov 20 2016 by Desiree Burns
"It has been made a decision to begin a 48-hour ceasefire from 12:00 noon in Yemen's timing (09:00 GMT) on Saturday", a coalition statement carried by Saudi Arabia's official SPA news agency said, adding that the truce could be renewed if Houthi fighters and their allies abided by it and allowed aid into besieged cities.
The coalition said the truce could be renewed if the Houthis observed it and allowed aid to be delivered to rebel-held areas in the southwest.
"The ceasefire announced in Yemen offers new hope in a situation that is increasingly catastrophic for children", UNICEF's Executive Director Anthony Lake said in a statement.
The coalition has enforced an air and sea blockade on rebel-held areas.
A Saudi Arabia-led coalition supporting Yemen's government against Houthi rebels has declared a 48-hour ceasefire that began on Saturday, according to local media.
Taiz has been one of the worst-hit cities in Yemen's conflict where fighting between Shiite rebels, known as the Houthis, and forces loyal to the internationally-recognized government escalated this week.
Activists in Taez said that rebel shelling continued in the city, despite the ceasefire.
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Any "military movements" by Houthi forces will be "addressed by the coalition", said the SPA statement, adding that controls imposed by the coalition on Yemen's ports and airports to stop arms getting to the enemy will remain in place.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said earlier this week that the coalition and Houthis had agreed on a ceasefire to begin on Thursday.
United Nations envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed urged all parties "to encourage full respect for the cessation of hostilities and to ensure that it leads to a permanent and lasting end to the conflict". U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who met with Houthi representatives in Oman this week, set November 17 as the beginning of the ceasefire.
The pro-government forces are backed by a Saudi-led coalition, which launched an air campaign past year to dislodge the Houthis from areas under their control, including the capital Sanaa.
Hadi's exiled government has been requesting humanitarian access for Taiz, a divided city ringed by mountains and largely encircled by the Houthis. The conflict has forced 3 million people to flee their homes and pushed the Arab world's poorest nation to the brink of starvation.
No side has emerged as the dominant force in a war that has dragged into stalemate, displaced more than 3 million people and given room for a powerful branch of al Qaeda to expand its operations.