The Saudi-led coalition extended a one-sided ceasefire for one month in Yemen to support efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic, although fighting continues in this war-torn country .
The move was made on Friday after Houthi rebels in Yemen, aligned with Iran, rejected a two-week ceasefire declared by the military coalition that ended on Thursday.
The coalition has decided to “extend the ceasefire for a month from Thursday,” said spokesman Turki al-Maliki, quoted by the Saudi public news agency (SPA).
“The coalition reaffirms that it is still possible to concentrate all efforts to achieve a comprehensive and lasting ceasefire in Yemen,” he added.
Violence continued in several provinces throughout the two-week unilateral ceasefire, raising fears that war will overwhelm and overwhelm Yemen’s already weakened ability to fight the coronavirus.
The Houthis want the coalition’s air and sea blockades on regions they control lifted before agreeing to a ceasefire, Reuters news agency reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.
Last month, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for ceasefires in conflicts around the world to allow countries to focus on the COVID-19 pandemic.
While Yemen has reported a case of a new coronavirus, aid groups fear a catastrophic epidemic if the virus spreads among an acutely malnourished population in a country without adequate testing capabilities.
Yemen has been mired in conflict since the Houthi rebel group overthrew the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in the capital Sanaa in late 2014.
A military coalition led by Saudi Arabia in 2015 intervened to restore the government.
The conflict has pushed Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the Arab world, to the brink of starvation and devastated the country’s health facilities.