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Yemen deserves peace

ON SATURDAY rebel forces began to withdraw from the main port of Yemen, hopefully opening the way to an accelerated humanitarian effort to help the population which has been suffering terribly for almost five years.

Houthi insurgents began a campaign to seize control of the country in September 2014. A Saudi Arabian-led coalition quickly intervened. Up until now over 60,000 people have died in the conflict as well as from malnutrition, preventable diseases and epidemics, mainly because of a lack of medical supplies and food.

While there is a long way to go before it can be said that this conflict, deemed the worst current humanitarian crisis, is over, any step towards that objective must be welcomed.

Free access to ports is key to the United Nations promoted peace plan because it provides the gateway through which will flow the much-needed food and medical supplies rather than more arms to fuel the bitter war.

But nothing can be taken for granted. The agreement which led to Saturday's conciliatory moves was reached in December of 2018. It has taken six months of bickering between the sides to finally see part of what was agreed put in place.

There is also some confusion about who will control the evacuated areas.

That distrust will not disappear overnight so it is important that both sides to the conflict go into agreements with an honest intent to bring peace to the country.

More agreed withdrawals were due to take place yesterday and today, opening up access to two more ports. Another part of the agreement would see an exchange of prisoners.

If, and it is a big if, the ceasefire leads to a complete cessation of violence in the country, attention can then be turned to ridding Yemen of what is believed to be thousands of landmines laid by the Houthi fighters.

As has been experienced in many areas of conflict over the decades, these explosive devices leave a deadly mark on the country. Long after the fighting has stopped, landmines have the potential to kill people and many more have been left with life-changing injuries.

Hopefully the United Nations sponsored plan is successful and the people of Yemen will be freed from not only the violent conflict they have endured for too many years, but also the effects of near-famine conditions and the country will be cleared of landmines.

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