Martin Griffiths (Photo: Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa)
WASHINGTON, Nov 23 -- The Saudi-led coalition's airstrikes in Yemen have dramatically fallen over the course of the past two weeks after the country's Houthi rebels offered to halt cross-border attacks, Anadolu Agency reported, quoting the UN envoy for the war-struck country on Friday.
Martin Griffiths told the Security Council via video link from his Amman, Jordan office that Saudi airstrikes have plummeted by some 80 per cent since the Houthis made the offer.
"In what is perhaps an even more important sign that something is changing in Yemen, I would draw your attention to a simple indicator of the war itself: in the last two weeks the rate has dramatically reduced. I realise these are short periods but nonetheless it is striking," he said.
The Houthis made the offer to halt drone and rocket attacks on targets inside Saudi Arabia if Riyadh halted the coalition's airstrikes.
Griffiths said that over the course of the past two weeks there have been 48-hour periods where no airstrikes took place, a first, he said, since 2014. He further noted an 80 per cent decrease in fighting in the port city of Hodeida.
"Efforts to de-escalate violence are holding. I hope we will all soon be able to build on this achievement," he said.
Yemen has been beset by violence and chaos since that year, when the Houthis overran much of the country, including the capital, Sanaa. The crisis escalated in 2015 when a Saudi-led military coalition launched a devastating air campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi territorial gains.
Since then, tens of thousands of Yemenis, including numerous civilians, are believed to have been killed in the conflict, while another 14 million are at risk of starvation, according to the UN.