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U.N. envoy in Yemen to discuss ceasefire

U.N. envoy to Yemen said he is hoping ‘rapidly to secure a humanitarian truce’ to pave the way for ‘peaceful settlement’

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The U.N. envoy to Yemen arrived in Sanaa on Sunday to discuss a humanitarian pause in the war-torn country as fighting gripped the country’s second city Aden.

Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed told reporters at the airport that he was hoping “rapidly to secure a humanitarian truce” which could pave the way for a “peaceful settlement of the crisis which has turned into a catastrophe.”

Prior to his arrival to Sanaa, Ahmed was holding discussions with the pro-Hadi government in Saudi Arabia to push for a pause to allow aid into war-ravaged country, sources told Reuters.

On Sunday, Saudi-led warplanes bombed the Iran-backed Houthi militia’s positions, killing eight people, while rebel rocket fire killed six, including a child, officials said.

The dead from the Katyusha fire were Somali refugees who had sought shelter in a kindergarten, medics said.

Aden was the last refuge of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi before he fled to Saudi Arabia in March and has been a key battleground ever since.

In neighboring Lahj province, Hadi loyalists attacked a rebel gathering, killing 11, military sources said.

They also attacked the rebel-held Al-Anad air base, Yemen’s largest. Eight rebels and two Hadi loyalists were killed, the sources said.

On Saturday, Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdul Salam said in a post on his Facebook page he had met with Ahmed to discuss the matter, according to Reuters.

Earlier this week, The U.S. State Department called for a “humanitarian pause” in the conflict during the month of Ramadan to allow international aid groups to deliver urgently needed food, medicine and fuel.

The European Union said it supported U.N. efforts to secure a lasting, predictable and sustainable humanitarian ceasefire and demanded that Saudi-led forces ease restrictions on entry of ships to Yemeni ports.

On Wednesday, the United Nations declared Yemen a level three emergency, the highest on its scale. The United Nations also warned that more than 80 percent of the country’s population needs aid and the health system faces “imminent collapse.”

An Arab coalition has been bombarding the Houthis and allied army units since March in a campaign to restore Hadi to power.

More than 2,800 people have been killed in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula country since March, according to U.N. figures.

(With agencies)