03/26/2020, 09.39
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Yemen, glimmers of peace as warring parties accept UN truce appeal

Fear of a coronavirus epidemic in the country worries international observers. Healthcare facilities are collapsing and unable to offer adequate care. Houthi and Saudi-led Arab coalition in favor of a ceasefire, but expect practical implementation on the ground.

Sana'a (AsiaNews / Agencies) – There is a small glimmer of hope for peace in Yemen. In these hours the different warring factions welcomed a United Nations request for a ceasefire with immediate effect while the country, which has entered its sixth year of war, faces a serious humanitarian crisis and the danger of a possible coronavirus epidemic.

As the Vicar of Arabia pointed out to AsiaNews in recent days, the virus would have a "devastating" impact.

Last night a spokesman for the Saudi-led Arab coalition said he supported the Yemeni government's decision to follow up on the UN peace appeal. The same position was also held by the opposite front, the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels who control the capital Sana'a, who however demand that there be a concrete application on the ground of the ceasefire.

In the background, the danger of a coronavirus epidemic in the country also appears, the poorest of the Arab Peninsula and tormented by six years of conflict that have caused over 100 thousand victims and pushed millions on the threshold of hunger. There are currently no official cases of Covid-19, but verification is also difficult due to a collapsing healthcare system.

Colonel Turki al-Malki, spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, says he supports the efforts for a truce, launched in these hours by the UN secretary general Antonio Guterres who invited parties to resume peace talks interrupted in December 2018. "The coalition’s announcement ... is welcome. We are waiting for it to be applied practically,”

The Houthi front political leader Mahdi al-Mashat says they are also open to "a prisoner release".

Fears of a possible impact of coronavirus on the country are confirmed by experts and health professionals. We have a global coronavirus pandemic threatening to overwhelm an already broken health care system,” said Tamuna Sabadze, country director at the International Rescue Committee, adding that Yemen is already battling a large cholera outbreak.

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