UN chief calls for immediate Yemen ceasefire

UN chief calls for immediate Yemen ceasefire
Antonio Guterres has called for Yemen's warring parties to end hostilities immediately to prevent the country's humanitarian crisis from deepening.
2 min read
04 December, 2017
Antonio Guterres said the violence needs to stop to save the 'millions' at risk [Getty]

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for an immediate ceasefire in Yemen, amid an escalation of violence in the country's capital of Sanaa.

Guterres called for the resumption of all commercial imports and called on the warring parties to end hostilities for ther sake of "millions of children, women and men risk mass hunger, disease and death".

Fighting between forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and Iran-backed Houthi rebels broke out last week, when Saleh accused the his former allies of storming his mosque in Sanaa and attacking his powerful nephew Tarek Saleh.

The two groups have engaged in fierce street-to-street battles in Sanaa, where residents have barricaded themselves in their homes to shelter from the violence.

"Sanaa is becoming like a ghost town. There is a street war and people are holed up in their houses," according to a local activist who works with the International Organisation for Migration in Sanaa. 

"If the confrontation continues, many families will be cut off" and stranded in their homes, he warned.

On Saturday, Saleh reached out to a Saudi-led coalition that launched a military intervention against the Houthis in 2015, offering to "turn the page" if the coalition lifts a crippling blockade on the country.

Saleh had originally allied with the Houthis three years ago, when the rebel alliance seized the country's capital and forced President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to flee to Saudi Arabia.

A Saudi-led military coalition intervened in Yemen's conflict in 2015 in an attempt to restore Hadi's authority, however has been largely forced into a stalemate with the Houthis.

The new fighting between Saleh and his former allies marks a new turn in the country's conflict, which has claimed over 10,000.

According to medical sources in Sanaa, around 75 people from both sides have been killed in the recent clashes.