The European Union has commented on the recent developments in Yemen following the 48-hour ceasefire brokered by the US Secretary of State John Kerry. Although the ceasefire is very fragile, the EU praised it as a step in the right direction. “It is crucial that all the parties urgently agree on its unconditional extension which would include the commitment to unhindered access for humanitarian supplies and personnel to all parts of Yemen and pave the way to a the resumption of talks on the basis of the Road Map presented by the UN Special Envoy to the parties,” the EU’s foreign service published on its website.
“We have seen in the past that the breakdown of ceasefires leads only to further killing and suffering for the civilian population, to the advantage of no-one,” the statement continued. Therefore, Brussels urges all the warring parties to make the necessary compromises and commitments in the interest of alleviating the suffering of the Yemeni people. The EU promised full support to the ongoing efforts to broker a peace deal under the UN-led negotiations and it remains committed to contribute to a negotiated settlement. Brussels has also provided assistance to capacity building for the De-escalation and Coordination Committee and the local De-escalation Committees, which is key for a long-term cessation of the hostilities.
Yemen‘s civil war has devastated much of the country. The conflict is led between forces loyal to the internationally recognized government of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and those allied to the Houthi rebel movement. The Houthis is a Shia-led religious-political movement that emerged in northern Yemen in the 1990s and has fought against the government of Yemen’s longtime authoritarian president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, on and off since 2004. The conflict escalated in 2011 as a result of the failure of the political transition that was supposed to bring stability to Yemen following the toppling of Ali Abdullah Saleh, to hand over power to Mr Hadi.
The Houthis took advantage of the new president’s weakness by seizing northern Saada province and neighboring areas. In 2015, the rebels reinforced their control of the capital Sanaa forcing President Hadi to flee abroad. Alarmed by the Houthi advances, Saudi Arabia and eight other mostly Sunni Arab states launched a military campaign in the belief that the Houthi rebels are backed by Iran. The conflict is regarded as a proxy war between two regional powers: Saudi Arabia and Iran. Since March 2015, more than 6,800 people have been killed and 35,000 injured. The conflict brought about a humanitarian disaster, leaving 80 percent of the population in need of aid.