U.N. announces humanitarian pause in Yemen

The U.N. expects an unconditional week-long humanitarian pause in fighting in Yemen starting on Friday to allow the delivery of aid

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The United Nations has announced an “unconditional humanitarian pause” in the Yemen conflict starting at midnight local time Friday and is seeking commitments from all parties to stop all violence.

“The Secretary-General looks forward to the commitments of all parties to the conflict in Yemen to an unconditional humanitarian pause to start on Friday, 10 July at 23:59 (GMT + 3) until the end of Ramadan,” said U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric on Thursday.

“We feel we have the expressions necessary by all parties to announce the start of this pause on Friday,” said Dujarric.

He added: “It is imperative and urgent that humanitarian aid can reach all vulnerable people of Yemen unimpeded and through an unconditional humanitarian pause.”

Dujarric said Thursday that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has received assurances from Yemen’s President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and through his special envoy from Shiite Houthi of their support for a halt to fighting through the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Ramadan ends on July 17.

The announcement came eight days after the United Nations declared Yemen a level-3 humanitarian emergency, the highest on its scale, with nearly half of the country’s regions facing a food crisis.

More than 21.1 million people -- over 80 percent of Yemen’s population -- are in need of aid, with 13 million facing food shortages.

Access to water has become difficult for 9.4 million people, according to the United Nations.

Ban had repeatedly called for a humanitarian ceasefire to allow badly needed aid to be delivered to civilians suffering from the air war and the miilta offensives.

Yemen slid deeper into turmoil when a Saudi-led coalition launched air strikes in late March to stop an advance by the Iran-backed Houthi militia group who drove the president into exile.

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies are demanding that the Houthis pull back from territory seized in their offensive and that Hadi be restored to power.

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