UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A 72-hour ceasefire in Yemen is due to start on Wednesday night, the U.N. envoy for Yemen said on Monday after he received commitments from all of the country’s warring factions.
U.N. Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said the cessation of hostilities would begin at 2359 local time (2059 GMT) on Wednesday and could be renewed after the initial three-day period, the United Nations said in statement.
“The Special Envoy 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,” the statement said.
Earlier on Monday, Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdel-Malek al-Mekhlafi said on his official Twitter feed that President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi had agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire with the possibility of it being extended.
“The President agreed to a 72 hrs ceasefire to be extended if the other party adheres to it, activates the DCC (De-escalation and Coordination Committee) and lifts the siege of Taiz,” he said.
The DCC is the United Nations-backed military commission responsible for overseeing ceasefires in Yemen.
Hadi’s exiled government has been requesting humanitarian access for Taiz, a divided city largely encircled by the Houthi rebels who overran Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, in 2014. Government forces maintain control of only one of four access routes.
The Iranian-aligned Houthis and their allies, forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, hold most of Yemen’s northern half, while forces loyal to the Saudi-backed Hadi share control of the rest of the country with local tribes.
Houthi officials could not immediately be reached for comment about the ceasefire.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on Monday that Saudi Arabia was prepared to accept a ceasefire if the Houthis agreed to one, but that he was sceptical about peace efforts after previous ceasefire attempts failed.
Saudi Arabia and several Gulf Arab allies have carried out air strikes and deployed troops in Yemen in support of Hadi’s government since March 2015. Some 10,000 people, including 3,800 civilians, have been killed in the conflict, according to U.N. estimates.
Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Additional reporting by Mohammed Ghobari in Sanaa; Writing by Katie Paul and Eric Beech; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Peter Cooney