İrem GÖL -TDO- Saudi Arabia has started a two-week unilateral ceasefire in Yemen, in a move designed to show its awareness of the threat the coronavirus poses to a war-torn country with only rudimentary health services. So far no COVID-19 cases have been reported in the country. However, Saudi Arabia, with which Yemen shares a border, has suffered more than 40 deaths and is projecting many more. Yemen has closed its borders.
The Saudi move has been welcomed by the aid agencies and the UN special envoy, Martin Griffiths. A key test now will be whether it can be sustained, unlike previous ceasefire a fortnight ago that collapsed within days. Fighting has been especially intense in Al Jawf governorate in the north, where the Yemen government, backed by Saudi Arabia, had been trying to reverse recent Houthi gains. The Houthis were still firing ballistic missiles in the Marib in Wednesday after the Saudis announced the ceasefire and, as with many ceasefires, will be wary of letting Saudi Arabia use the ceasefire regroup.
Saudi Arabia says that ceasefire applies to all its ground, maritime and air operations, and is in support of calls from the UN secretary general Antonio Guterres, for a worldwide ceasefire due to the coronavirus outbreak.