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Houthis Exploit Coronavirus Pandemic to Evade Peace Efforts

Houthis Exploit Coronavirus Pandemic to Evade Peace Efforts

Thursday, 28 May, 2020 - 08:15
Houthi security officer spraying sterilization spray to passers-by in Sanaa (AFP)
Aden – Asharq Al-Awsat

Yemeni sources have accused Houthis of exploiting the humanitarian disaster caused by the coronavirus pandemic to blackmail the international community and stall on announcing the group’s stance on the UN plan for ceasefire.

According to local estimates, there are 400 coronavirus deaths that occurred in Houthi-run Sanaa alone. The death rate of patients in Houthi-run territory stands at 40% compared to the 30% in government-run areas.

Houthis have actively hidden coronavirus data from the public.

UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths remains optimistic towards the Houthis joining the plan he drafted to stop fighting and focus efforts on combating the coronavirus.

Despite the envoy’s optimism on Houthis accepting the offer in the next few days, many are unsure given that the Iran-backed militia continues to introduce amendments to the plan which the Yemeni government agreed to three weeks ago.

Griffiths is leading daily discussion with Houthi representatives and leaders in the hopes of convincing them with accepting the UN plan which involves a comprehensive ceasefire, the reopening of the Sanaa airport for international flights and the dispensing of the salaries of public servants, reliable sources reported to Asharq Al-Awsat.

The UN plan also guarantees the return of political negotiations. Griffiths’ efforts, however, were underestimated by the Houthi leadership.

Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, President of the Houthi’s Revolutionary Committee, mocked the recent US invitation for the militia to allow a team of international experts to inspect the Safer oil tanker.

The Safer oil tanker has been docked 60km (37 miles) north of Yemen's port city of Hodeidah since the late 1980s and suffers from poor maintenance since the war broke out in Yemen some five years ago.

Erosion on the oil platform threatens an explosion or an oil spill which threatens to destroy the Red Sea marine life and to shut down Hodeidah ports for several months.

“The American invitation highlights concern for (shrimp) and not for humans in Yemen,” al-Houthi tweeted.

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