Yemen government tells UN it is ready for ceasefire

Government in exile tells the UN it is ready for a conditional truce on humanitarian grounds, but rebels reject offer.

Yemen''s capital Sanaa
More than 3,000 people have been killed since March when a coalition led by Saudi Arabia began a military offensive [Reuters]

Yemen’s exiled government has told the UN that it is ready for a temporary ceasefire to end nearly three months of fighting provided key “guarantees” are met, a spokesman has said.

“The Yemeni authorities have informed the secretary general of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon of its agreement to implement a truce in the coming days,” spokesman Rajeh Badi told Reuters by phone from the government’s seat of exile in Saudi Arabia.

Yemen’s President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the spokesman said, had “set guarantees for the success of the truce”.

These included the release of prisoners by Yemen’s dominant Houthi group, including the loyalist defence minister, as well as the Houthis’ withdrawal from four southern and eastern provinces where they are fighting local militias.

But Houthi leader Zeifullah al-Shami told the Associated Press late on Wednesday that those conditions are “unacceptable” because they do not address the country’s humanitarian crisis.

Humanitarian catastrophe

Despite the disagreements, al-Shami said the UN-sponsored talks that began on Sunday were continuing in the capital, Sanaa.

“Those conditions are actually silly from the so-called President Hadi government. Those are the same conditions that were presented at Geneva talks and now here again,” Hussain al-Bukhaiti, a pro-Houthi activist, told Al Jazeera.

“I know Houthi won’t accept any condition for withdrawal and there cannot be any precondition for ceasefire,” he told Al Jazeera over the phone from Sanaa.

Aid groups warn of deepening crisis

The UN has received a letter from the Yemeni government and was “seeking clarification from the parties,” said Ban’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

Saudi Arabia and an Arab coalition have been bombing the Houthis and their allies in Yemen’s army since March in an effort to restore Hadi.

Aid agencies say the fighting and a near-blockade imposed by an alliance of Arab states aimed at weapons deliveries to the Houthis has caused a humanitarian catastrophe, with most people needing some kind of aid.

Bukhaiti said that “the main source of the humanitarian crisis is the blockade by the Saudi-led coalition”. He said that about 90 percent of aid is lying in Djibouti and the Saudis are not letting it enter Yemen.

More than 3,000 people, including 1,500 civilians, have been killed since March, according to the UN.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies