State: Cease-Fire Allows Flow of Some Humanitarian Relief Into Yemen

AP Photo
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The five-day cease-fire in Yemen, which appeared to be holding up despite some violations, has facilitated the delivery of some humanitarian assistance for the residents of the war-ravaged nation, a U.S. State Department spokesman said on Thursday.

“Our information is that there has been broad pause in the fighting,” State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke told reporters. “There have been reports of incidents, but there has been a broad pause in the fighting over all and this has resulted in the successful delivery of some humanitarian assistance and some relief for the Yemeni people.”

“There is humanitarian assistance that has gotten in… and [there are] plans for more to come in,” he added. “So, in that regard we see the humanitarian pause and the cease-fire as having facilitated some of those aid deliveries.”

The State Department spokesman acknowledged that the Saudi-led coalition issued a statement, saying the Iran-backed Houthis had breached the truce, which started on Tuesday night.

“We are aware that the Saudi-led coalition put out a statement last night which indicated multiple incidents of cease-fire violations, which included… reports of rockets being shot over the Saudi border,” said Rathke.

“At the same time, in their statement, the Saudi-led coalition confirmed their full commitment to the humanitarian truce and to restraint,” he added. “So, we continue to urge all sides to continue to exercise restraint and hold to the terms of the cease-fire.”

The Shiite Houthi rebels and their allies had agreed to abide by the truce, which was proposed by Saudi Arabia and backed by the U.S. in an effort to allow the delivery of much-needed humanitarian aid into Yemen.

Saudi Arabia has been accused by the Houthis of violating the cease-fire as well.

“Witnesses in the southwestern city of Abyan said warplanes had hit positions there after the Houthi seized the area following the start late on Tuesday of the ceasefire, which is intended to ward off a humanitarian catastrophe,” reports Reuters.

“Residents of the southern provinces of Shabwa and Lahj, which have witnessed heavy ground clashes between local militiamen and the Houthis, also reported air strikes overnight,” it added.

Nevertheless, Reuters notes that hostilities in Yemen appear to have largely died down.

When asked if five days would be enough time to deliver humanitarian aid inside Yemen, the State Department spokesman said, “Going back to the announcement that the Saudi-led coalition made about the cease-fire, they described it as a five-day cease-fire that would be renewable.”

“So, I think that’s an acknowledgement of a desire for it not simply to last five days and end,” he continued. “The purpose is for it to continue if the conditions are right and if it’s abided by all sides.”

Rathke did not know when a possible continuation of the truce would be announced.

Since March 26, a Saudi-led alliance of Sunni Arab nations has been launching airstrikes against the Houthis and allied army units that control much of Yemen.

According to the coalition, their aim is to restore exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.