Nationwide ceasefire and political settlement are the best defense against COVID-19 in Yemen, the Swedish, British and German foreign ministers said Wednesday.
In their 'Yemen that will rise after peace' joint article carried by the Asharq Al-awsat, the Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Ann Lindy, the UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and the German Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas presented their perspective for what the international community could contribute to making peace in the country.
"COVID-19 is stretching the country's fragile healthcare system to breaking point," the European FMs added. "According to modeling by London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Yemen may have surpassed 1m COVID-19 cases last week and cases continue to rise rapidly.
"We have a global responsibility to ease the suffering of Yemeni people," the European ministers said.
"First, a nationwide ceasefire and a political settlement remain Yemen's best defense against the pandemic" in the country, where "there is no time for further delay as civilians continue to suffer and die.
"The international community must press all actors to accept the UN proposal for a ceasefire. This should be the start of a political process, and the full participation of women must be assured.
"Second, humanitarian assistance needs to be delivered to all Yemenis who need it... We must also challenge any obstacles that continue to prevent humanitarian agencies from effectively operating in Yemen. This is particularly the case in northern areas of the country controlled by the Houthis. The COVID-19 response can only stand a chance if all Yemeni parties lift their restrictions on aid.
"Third, we need to encourage implementation of existing agreements. This includes the Stockholm Agreement, which calls for a mutual withdrawal from the port city of Hodeida, and the Riyadh Agreement. If they were properly implemented, the commitments previously agreed by the parties would bolster UN efforts to achieve comprehensive peace.
"Fourth, for Yemen to effectively recover from COVID-19, its already fragile economy must be kept alive. The indirect consequences of coronavirus could be even more severe than the direct impact. In particular, Yemen's partners need to support the government of Yemen to pay public sector salaries – not least for medical staff – and to implement urgent economic reforms."
"The Yemen that emerges from a peace agreement needs to play a constructive and active role in the region – contributing to the security of its immediate neighbors, Saudi Arabia and Oman. Our three countries stand ready to assist Yemen's transition into a positive force for regional security.
"Under the cloud of COVID-19, Yemen is facing an enormous tragedy. It is high time the international community united in support of its people. Yemen could be transformed. Instead of being defined by suffering and as a threat to regional and international security, Yemen could become a model for other fragmented states in conflict and a catalyst for enhanced security in a region of divergent interests. We stand ready to work with and support Yemen to achieve these humanitarian and strategic goals," the Swedish, British and German top diplomats said.