By Ben Hubbard
April 8, 2020
BEIRUT, Lebanon — Saudi Arabia on Wednesday announced that the kingdom and its allies would observe a unilateral cease-fire in the war in Yemen starting at noon on Thursday, a move that could pave the way for ending the brutal five-year-old conflict.
Saudi officials said the cease-fire sought to jump-start peace talks brokered by the United Nations and had been motivated by fears of the coronavirus spreading in Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab world, where the health care system has been ravaged by years of blockade and conflict.
The gesture is the first by any government entangled in an international armed conflict to halt hostilities at least in part because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has traumatized the world. The leader of the United Nations, Secretary General António Guterres, pleaded for a worldwide humanitarian cease-fire two weeks ago because of the pandemic.