Middle East

Yemen crisis: UN says humanitarian pause to start on Friday

A nurse attends to a child in the intensive care unit of a government hospital in Sanaa, Yemen, June 24, 2015. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The UN says 80% of Yemen's 25m people need some form of humanitarian aid

The UN says a humanitarian ceasefire will begin in Yemen on Friday, lasting until the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, on 17 July.

More than 3,000 people have been killed since a Saudi-led coalition began air strikes in March to drive back Houthi rebels and restore the government.

Aid agencies say a blockade on Yemen has worsened the humanitarian crisis which is gripping the country.

More than 80% of Yemen's 25 million people now need some form of aid.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Saudi-led military operations have provoked protests among Yemenis loyal to the Houthi movement in the capital Sanaa

Displaced by conflict

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said: "It is imperative and urgent that humanitarian aid can reach all vulnerable people of Yemen unimpeded and through an unconditional humanitarian pause."

The pause will come into effect at 23:59 local time (20:59 GMT) on Friday.

In recent months Yemen has descended into conflicts between several different groups, although the main fight is between forces loyal to beleaguered President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and Shia Zaidi rebels - or Houthis - who forced Mr Hadi to flee the capital Sanaa in February.

After rebel forces closed in on the president's southern stronghold of Aden in late March, a coalition led by Saudi Arabia responded to a request by Mr Hadi to intervene and launched air strikes on Houthi targets.

Gulf Arab states have accused Iran of backing the Houthis financially and militarily, though Iran has denied this.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The main fight in Yemen is between forces (above) loyal to the beleaguered President, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, and those allied to Zaidi Shia rebels known as Houthis
Image copyright EPA
Image caption The UN says little of the promised financial aid for Yemen has materialised

On Tuesday, the UN announced that at least 1,528 civilians were among the 3,000 dead.

Another one million civilians have been displaced by the conflict.

Charities say a lack of fuel in Yemen is making it difficult to reach those in need and to provide adequate care in hospitals.

The coalition allowed a five-day humanitarian ceasefire in May, but much of the aid promised to those in need has failed to materialise.

Yemen is strategically important because it sits on the Bab al-Mandab strait, a narrow waterway linking the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden, through which much of the world's oil shipments pass.

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