Yemen warring parties back UN truce call, as US starts aid reduction

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Yemen’s warring parties welcomed a UN call for an immediate truce on Thursday as the country entered its sixth year of a conflict, rendering it more vulnerable to any coronavirus outbreak.

The Arab coalition said late on Wednesday that it backed the Yemeni government’s acceptance of the UN appeal.

The Iran-aligned Houthi militia group welcomed that stance but said it wants to see implementation on the ground.

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The US Agency for International Development (USAID) meanwhile said it had started to reduce aid to areas controlled by the Houthis, on concerns the group hinders the delivery of assistance, a spokesperson told Reuters.

The new coronavirus has yet to be documented in the Arabian peninsula nation.

Following his call for a global ceasefire to focus on combating the pandemic, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday urged Yemen’s parties to end hostilities and restart peace talks last held in December 2018.

Millions are dependent on humanitarian aid in Yemen, but aidagencies in recent months have increasingly complained ofinterference and obstruction from the Houthis and threatened to scale down aid if conditions did not improve.

“The Houthis have failed to demonstrate sufficient progresstowards ending unacceptable interference in these operations,”the USAID spokesperson said, adding that it would continue tosupport the most urgent life-saving assistance.

“The coronavirus crisis demonstrates now more than ever theneed for our partners to be able to deliver aid to those whoneed it most without interference or delay.”

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