Eight countries on Thursday called for a political solution to end the conflict in Yemen, after an online high-level ministerial meeting to discuss the war-torn country.

In a joint communique, United Nations veto powers Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, as well as Germany, Kuwait and Sweden, “stressed the urgent need for de-escalation across Yemen and a nationwide ceasefire.”

The group also expressed regret that the Yemeni parties did not seize the opportunity to achieve a ceasefire after UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ March call for an immediate cessation of hostilities.

In a briefing to the closed-door meeting, Guterres said five years of war had devastated the lives of tens of millions of Yemenis.

“With the coronavirus pandemic, the urgency of reaching a negotiated political settlement to end the conflict has only grown,” the UN chief said, according to circulated remarks.

Guterres said while there were more than 2,000 confirmed cases in Yemen, experts estimated that up to 1 million people were infected, with a fatality rate of up to 30 per cent, as many health facilities had been destroyed in the war.

The impoverished country has been in the grip of a power struggle between the government and the Houthi rebels since late 2014.

Saudi Arabia and its fellow Sunni allies started an air campaign against the Shiite Houthis in March 2015.

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