Yemen ceasefire crucial to save country from disaster, European ministers say

Swedish, German and British foreign ministers outline road map for stability in Yemen amid coronavirus disaster

epa07934862 Members of Houthi militia pass a destroyed building during the deployment of observers on cross-lines in Hodeidah, Yemen, 19 October 2019. According to reports, Lieutenant General of India Abhijit Guha, chair of the UN's redeployment coordination committee in the Yemeni city of Hodeidah, oversaw the deployment of observers on cross-lines and checkpoints in Hodeidah to stabilize the ceasefire and activate a new procedure for de-escalation in the port city between the Houthi rebels and the Saudi-backed government forcers. Hodeidah is the key lifeline entry point for most of the Arab country’s food imports and humanitarian aid.  EPA/NAJEEB ALMAHBOOBI

The foreign ministers of Sweden, Germany and the UK have outlined a five-step plan for Yemen, including calls for a ceasefire, to save the country from collapse.

The Swedish Foreign Minister, Anne Lind, with her German and British counterparts, Heiko Maas and Dominic Raab, have written in the Financial Times saying that the international community should act to help pull Yemen back from the brink.

The three European officials said that after six years of war and with Covid-19 stretching the country’s healthcare capacity to its limit, a ceasefire was essential for Yemen to have a chance against the pandemic.

They welcomed the Saudi-led coalition’s unilateral ceasefire in April but decried continued violence in the country.

“Unfortunately, the Houthis have not reciprocated and fighting has continued. The Houthis have launched ballistic missiles towards Saudi Arabia, including at civilian targets, as recently as last week, recklessly endangering civilian lives,” the three foreign ministers said.

“There is no time for further delay as civilians continue to suffer and die. The international community must press all actors to accept the UN proposal for a ceasefire,” they added.

The Swedish, German and British foreign ministers also called for further humanitarian assistance for Yemen after donations failed to meet targets at a recent UN donors’ conference.

They said more needed to be done to carry out existing agreements such as the mutual withdrawal from Hodeidah and the Riyadh Agreement.

The three officials also urged support for the Yemeni economy and called, finally, for all actors in Yemen to respect international and humanitarian law. In particular they called on the Houthis to fulfil their announcement to release members of the Baha’i faith and for Iran to respect the UN weapons embargo in Yemen.