Amid coronavirus pandemic, Saudi Arabia plans for a cease-fire in Yemen

The Saudis, who back Yemen's government in their fight against the rebel Houthis, have called for a cease-fire as the nation prepares to battle the deadly virus

Updated: April 9, 2020 - 10:11am

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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia says it will temporarily suspend military operations in Yemen.

In the announcement Wednesday, Saudi officials expressed hope that the move will encourage a dialogue among Yemen’s warring parties as they battle the novel coronavirus.

Yemen has been engaged in a bloody civil war for the better part of a decade. Presently, an Iranian-allied rebel group called the Houthis retain control of Yemen’s capital.

The Saudis have been involved in the conflict for over five years and but are now increasing efforts to remove themselves from the conflict.

While no coronavirus cases have officially been reported yet in Yemen, the country is impoverished, and its medical system has been ravaged by years of war. Aid workers are concerned that the spread of the virus would destroy the nation already in turmoil.

“If they have 200 ventilators in the country, I’d be stunned,” a United Nations aid worker told the Washington Post.

Officials are hoping the pandemic will provide an opportunity to bring an end to some of the deadliest clashes of the ongoing war. Violence in the region over the past 10 days has killed upward of 270 people.

Yemen’s government has agreed to Saudi Arabia’s cease-fire proposal, but it is unclear whether the Houthis will also agree. Several cease-fire offers in the past have failed.