The UN has brokered a ceasefire agreement
between warring parties in the port city of Hodeidah, Yemen, following a week of peace talks in Sweden.
If implemented, the deal would represent a significant breakthrough as the Red Sea port is the gateway for much needed humanitarian aid and supplies.
The potential breakthrough is welcomed by Save the Children which has been operating in Yemen to deliver vital aid since the beginning of the conflict 4 years ago.
Save the Children has estimated 85,000 children have already died from hunger and disease in Yemen as a result of this brutal war, and 100 more may be dying each and every day the conflict continues.
Within 21 days, troops from both sides will withdraw from the Hodeidah area and UN-supervised neutral forces would be deployed to secure humanitarian corridors. There was also agreement to a ceasefire in two other ports, Salif and Ras Issa.
Support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen has dissipated in recent months, with a number of countries ending the supply of arms and defence equipment, and the US refusing to refuel aircraft used to bomb Hodeidah.
The Australian Government will likely come under increasing pressure to end the supply of defence equipment to the coalition after an ABC 7.30 investigation
and Freedom of Information documents revealed the extent of its support overnight.
The next round of peace talks has been scheduled for late January 2019.
Tamer Kirolos, Save the Children’s Yemen Country Director, said:
“The warring parties must implement the steps agreed in Sweden, in line with international humanitarian law. The world will be watching. A ceasefire in Hodeidah, and the reopening of Sanaa airport to domestic flights, are important first steps to help alleviate the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Yemen,”
Mr Kirolos said.
“We must use this window of opportunity as a critical first step in achieving a sustainable and nation-wide ceasefire, to get more life-saving aid and commercial goods into and throughout the country and reach the children and families who need it most. It’s literally a matter of life and death, in a country where some 85,000 children are already believed to have died from extreme hunger and disease, from entirely preventable causes.
“Only an end to the war can bring lasting relief to Yemeni people but until then, the international community must continue to put pressure on all sides to urgently address the humanitarian crisis to avoid a full-blown famine. That means easing restrictions on humanitarian and commercial imports, stabilising the collapsing economy and stopping the fighting so no more lives are lost. The UN Security Council must demand that all sides implement the steps agreed to in Sweden at Friday’s crucial meeting in New York.
“This is the best chance we’ve had in more than four years to end this brutal war and ensure a brighter future for Yemen’s children, tens of thousands of whom have already died because of it.”
For interviews, call Alex Sampson on 0429 943 027