Reports & News

Fri - 22 May 2020 - 03:34 AM ،،،

 A British government minister has accused Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels of using a "smokescreen" to perpetuate the conflict despite global calls for a truce to tackle the Covid-19 outbreak.

James Cleverly, the Foreign Office minister for the Middle East and North Africa, wrote in The National that UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' call for a humanitarian ceasefire in the country should be heeded.

Mr Cleverly said that after five years of war Yemen was now "menaced" by the pandemic.

"It is deeply concerning that some of Yemen’s leaders have shirked their responsibilities and sought to use the crisis to serve their own narrow agendas," he wrote.

"We have heard reports of the Houthis blaming migrants for the outbreak and stopping coronavirus cases from being recorded. We must see through this smokescreen."

Despite the threat to millions of lives, Mr Cleverly, who served as chairman of the Conservative Party during last year's general election, said commanders were fuelling the conflict, not seeking to set down arms.

He called on redoubled support for Martin Griffiths, the UN's special envoy to Yemen, who is trying to achieve a ceasefire, open up humanitarian access and build a political process.

"Ultimately, the biggest impediment to the fight against the coronavirus remains Yemen’s horrific conflict," he wrote.

"In this respect, the recent Houthi aggression towards Marib and the conflict in the south are especially concerning."

Mr Cleverly also called on the Houthi leadership to fulfil pledges on allowing aid to get to the needy.

He made a plea for endangered political prisoners in its jails, including Briton Luke Symons, who was detained in 2017.

Mr Cleverly challenged the Houthi leaders to make moves out of the conflict.

"This needs to include urgent steps to facilitate humanitarian access; free political prisoners, including detained British national Luke Symons; reach agreement on a nationwide ceasefire; and build humanitarian and economic confidence," he said.

"These responsible actions are within their power."