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Yemen's Nobel laureate urges factions to respect ceasefire

Nobel Peace Prize winner says if ceasefire is not observed throughout Yemen then it will only give Houthis 'opportunity to kill more people'
Yemeni Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Tawakkol Karman, said the ceasefire would help Yemeni citizens (AFP)

Yemeni Nobel Peace Prize laureate and human rights activist Tawakkol Karman has called on Yemen’s warring factions to observe the terms of a recent ceasefire agreement.

It comes as Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen on Sunday, two days after Friday’s ceasefire agreement started, killed at least 21 civilians in the capital Sanaa.

Just hours after the ceasefire was meant to start to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid, both sides made accusations of breaches to the agreement.

"If the ceasefire is observed throughout Yemen – and in Taiz, Aden and Maarib in particular – and humanitarian aid is delivered to these cities without falling into the hands of the Houthis, it would help relieve the problems faced by Yemeni civilians," Karman told Anadolu Agency on Sunday.

"Otherwise, the ceasefire will only serve to empower the Houthi militants and ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh, giving them an opportunity to kill more people."

There have also been clashes between the warring factions in Taiz, Yemen's third largest city.

The UN-brokered peace deal was announced by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday and was meant to last until the end of Ramadan on 16 July.

The Saudi-led coalition, however, said it had not been asked to stop the air raids by Yemen’s government-in-exile.

Additional truce terms

Karman also stressed the importance of implementing additional terms of the truce, such as holding a constitutional referendum and elections in line with the country’s new constitution. 

"This is the only way to build a democracy and a sustainable peace process in Yemen," she concluded.

Yemen has remained in a state of chaos since last September, when the Shia Houthi militia overran the capital Sanaa.

Aden, the country’s commercial and economic capital, has also seen fierce fighting in recent months between Houthi militias and popular resistance committees loyal to Yemen’s embattled president, Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, who is currently in Saudi capital Riyadh.

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