May 10-18: Humanitarian Pause changes little on the ground

During the past week, the five-day “humanitarian pause”—a temporary ceasefire agreed to by Saudi Arabia and the Houthi leadership—dominated local press coverage, while sporadic clashes were reportedly taking place in central and southern Yemen. Two days before the ceasefire took effect on May 12, the Houthi Political Bureau agreed to it, as it “welcomed any positive and serious step.”

During the ceasefire, UN agencies released new statistics on casualties resulting from the aerial bombardment campaign and ground fighting, reporting that more than 1800 people have been killed since March, and more than 500,000 others displaced.

The explosion of a weapons depot to the east of the capital, which sent munitions flying miles away, has reportedly killed 90 people.

In the town of Zabid, not far from the western port city of al-Hudaydah, at least 30 people were killed when a local market was hit by two airstrikes.

In Abs District of Hajjah Governorate, at least 40 people including more than a dozen inmates were killed in a prison at the District Security Building, after it was struck by airstrikes.

Despite this ceasefire, clashes reportedly continued in the southern port city of Aden, the central city of Taʻiz, and the eastern city of Marib, as well as the southern city of al-Dhaliʻ.

Although aid organizations were able to fly in some humanitarian supplies during the “pause”—the first of its kind in 47 days of the Saudi-led aerial campaign—the  aid delivered is a small fraction of what is now required.

The new UN envoy to Yemen, visited Sanʻa for the first time over the last week, and called on the Saudis to extend the humanitarian pause. There has been no official reply to his call. The Houthi-appointed army spokesperson, Sharaf Luqman, welcomed the UN envoy’s call.

Just hours after the ceasefire came to an end, the airstrikes resumed in Aden, hitting several areas, including the airport.

A three-day conference was held in Riyadh, bringing together leaders of several Yemeni factions in opposition to the Houthi-Saleh forces. The conference ended with pledges of cooperation against the groups’ common enemies. Preliminary UN-led peace negotiations between the Houthis, the Hadi government in exile, and other factions is scheduled for May 28 in Geneva.