72-hour Yemen ceasefire agreed, says UN
Published 18/10/2016 | 12:16
The warring parties in Yemen have agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire that will take effect shortly before midnight on Wednesday, the UN special envoy to Yemen said.
Special envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said he hopes the temporary truce can lead to a "permanent and lasting end to the conflict".
Mr Ahmed said in a statement that he received assurances from all parties to the conflict to cease hostilities at 11.59pm local time on Wednesday for an initial period of 72 hours that is subject to renewal.
The warring factions agreed to follow the conditions of a temporary April ceasefire agreement, he said.
The agreement requires them to "to allow free and unhindered access for humanitarian supplies and personnel" to all parts of Yemen, he said.
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 air strikes against the rebels.
The Saudi-led coalition and the United States are backing the internationally recognised government of Yemen's president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
More than 4,000 civilians have been killed and three 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, with t he southern city of Taiz one of the hardest-hit areas.
Foreign minister Abdel-Malak al-Mukhlafi demanded late on Monday that a months-long siege of the city be lifted and relief supplies delivered to its residents without conditions.
"Peace is our permanent choice," he said.
The ceasefire agreement was announced late on Monday, a day after Mr Ahmed met in London with US secretary of state John Kerry and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.
"This is the time to implement a ceasefire unconditionally and then move to the negotiating table," Mr Kerry said after the meeting.