The Houthi rebels in Yemen on Sunday said that they had agreed to a five-day ceasefire proposed by Saudi Arabia to be commenced on Tuesday in order to allow humanitarian relief supplies to be delivered to the country.
Saudi Arabia had announced on Friday that the ceasefire could begin if the Houthis agreed to a pause. The Houthis in a statement said that they would deal “positively” with any move that would ease off the suffering of Yemenis. The UN and the Western powers had also come forward suggesting a truce considering the almost impossible rescue operations in the country. While the Iran-allied Houthi rebels warned that they would ‘respond’ to any violations, Saudi Arabia stated that the military operations would continue targeting the Houthis as long as they attack the civilians. Saudi Arabia led coalition, backed by the US began airstrikes against the Houthi rebels on March 26 with the aim of restoring the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. Colonel Sharaf Luqman, spokesperson for the Houthi-allied army, said in a statement that “any military violation of the ceasefire from al Qaeda and those who stand with it and support it and fund it will be responded to by the army and security and the popular committees”.
The Houthi insurgents have said that their campaign is aimed at countering the Al Qaida militants and fight corruption. If Al Qaida or those backing the terror group violate the truce, the consequences would be grave. President Abd Rabbuak Mansur Hadi on March 26 had requested for the intervention of Saudi Arabia thus paving way for the airstrikes on Yemen. The insurgents have already toppled the government, conquered major cities and are rapidly advancing. The President might have believed that an intervention from outside could help curb the insurgents. More than 1, 300 people most of them civilians, have been killed, hundreds displaced and infrastructure destroyed since March when Saudi began the airstrikes leading to the shortage of food, medicine and fuel. The president and other Ministers have left the country. Former president Saleh’s residence was bombed in Sanaa early on Sunday. The UN reports say that around 1500 civilians were killed and over 3 lakhs were left homeless. Navy sanctions were imposed to stop arms trafficking. But now ships laden with food supplies are also a rare sight in the impoverished country. The Houthis escaping the attacks are shifting to the civilian resident areas which aggravate the already worsened scenario.
The destruction of the milk factory and attacks against the refugee boats invited huge criticisms from the international community. Saudi Arabia had critisised Houthis for using civilians as barricades. The airstrikes are still being continued due to the Houthi’s frequent attacks. The insurgents have advanced across the Saudi border, conquering major cities and leading to the death of many. If the present situations persist, the ceasefire proposal to come to effect on Tuesday would be disrupted. With the peace negotiations already going on, the two parties should be moving ahead with the proposal so that the innocent Yemenis who are stuck in between and badly in need of food and medical supplies could have some relief.