UN announces agreement on 72-hour Yemen cease-fire


UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The warring parties in Yemen have agreed to a 72-hour cease-fire which is to take effect shortly before midnight Wednesday, the U.N. special envoy to Yemen announced Monday.

A U.N. statement said Special Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed “welcomes the restoration of the Cessation of Hostilities, which will spare the Yemeni people further bloodshed and will allow for the expanded delivery of humanitarian assistance.”

Ahmed said he had received assurances from all Yemeni parties to cease hostilities at 11:59 p.m. Yemen time on Oct. 19 “for an initial period of 72 hours, subject to renewal.”

He said the warring factions had agreed to follow the terms and conditions of a temporary April cease-fire agreement. He expressed hope that the upcoming cease-fire would lead “to a permanent and lasting end to the conflict.”

Ahmed said the agreement obliges all parties “to allow free and unhindered access for humanitarian supplies and personnel” to all parts of Yemen.

The cease-fire agreement was announced a day after Ahmed met in London with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson as a flurry of diplomacy focused on the impoverished war-torn country.

“This is the time to implement a cease-fire unconditionally and then move to the negotiating table,” Kerry said after Sunday’s meeting.

More than 4,000 civilians have been killed and 3 million of the country’s 26 million people have been driven from their homes by the fighting. Hunger has become widespread in the Arab world’s poorest country.

The war in Yemen began in 2014 when Shiite rebels known as Houthis based in the north seized the capital Sanaa. In March 2015, Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies launched a campaign of airstrikes against the rebels. The Saudi-led coalition and the United States are backing the internationally recognized government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

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