Promise for Yemen

Children play near a house destroyed in air strike carried out by the Saudi-led coalition in Faj Attan village, Sanaa, Yemen December 13, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed al-Sayaghi

It’s welcome news that the warring factions in Yemen have agreed to a cease-fire in Hodeida as part of a series of breakthroughs that were announced Thursday by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Hopefully these developments, along with the agreement to exchange prisoners, mark the first steps toward turning the page on the suffering in Yemen.

Hunger there has become starvation and is about to lurch into a famine that could affect half the population. And the country has already suffered an economic crisis that became a catastrophe, and an insurgency that turned into a civil war.

If the conflict continues, nearly half a million Yemeni children who are chronically malnourished are likely to die in the coming months.

Though the breakthrough does not resolve all outstanding problems and obstacles, a cease-fire will allow passage for both civilians and aid, and will be monitored by the U.N.

This first step, if implemented with the same good intentions that have been expressed by both parties, would be an incentive for further meetings early next year to look into other issues, including that of Sanaa airport or the situation in Taiz.

It’s significant that the first reaction to the deal came from Saudi Arabia, confirming that it would help restore security at a time when leading aid organizations have announced that it marks a turning point in Yemen’s path to peace.

This is a big step on the humanitarian front. The warring factions are urged by the international community and aid groups to respect their commitment to the agreement, which can only become meaningful when civilians feel secure once more and supplies start arriving in desperate areas.

The Yemenis deserve peace, and it is the duty of the international community to help them achieve it.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 14, 2018, on page 1.




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