Yemen’s warring parties have agreed to a nationwide cessation of hostilities starting next month in an attempt to end the year-old conflict that has killed more than 6,000 people – half of whom were civilians.
The ceasefire will take hold at midnight on April 10, the UN special envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said on Wednesday. A new round of peace talks between the rival sides will take place in Kuwait beginning on April 18, Ould Cheikh Ahmed added.
The country is facing a humanitarian catastrophe, according to the United Nations, with millions of people without enough food or access to adequate medical care.
There have already been several failed attempts to defuse the conflict in Yemen, which has drawn in regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran and triggered. A first round of talks was held in Switzerland in December.
“This is really our last chance,” Ould Cheikh Ahmed told reporters in New York. “The war in Yemen must be brought to an end.”
The UN envoy said the face-to-face talks in Kuwait will focus on a series of issues, including the withdrawal of military forces, the handover of heavy weaponry, interim security arrangements, and the restoration of state institutions, Al Jazeera’s Shihab Rattansi reported from UN headquarters in New York.
Ould Cheikh Ahmed said the talks aim to reach an agreement to end the conflict and allow the resumption of political dialogue leading to a peaceful transition based on a regional peace initiative.
He also said that the parties have promised to reinforce a committee overseeing the ceasefire with prominent Yemeni figures who will report on progress and security incidents.
The conflict intensified in March last year, after Iran-allied Houthi fighters and soldiers loyal to Ali Abdullah Saleh – the former Yemeni president – swept across southern Yemen, taking the port city of Aden and forcing the Arab Gulf-backed President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi into exile.
Saudi Arabia assembled a mainly Arab military coalition in response and began launching air strikes on Hadi’s opponents.
In October, the coalition began sending regular ground troops to help Hadi loyalists secure their gains, including the recently recaptured Aden.