Saturday, 19 October, 2019

United Nations monitoring rebel withdrawal from Yemen's Hodeida

Yemen's Houthis offer unilateral withdrawal from key ports in coming days - UN Yemeni Houthis to Withdraw Forces From 3 Key Ports Over 4 Days - Reports
Patty Aguilar | 13 May, 2019, 10:04

Yemen's government has asked the United Nations to give timeframes for the next steps of the peace deal, after Houthi forces began withdrawing in the most significant advance yet for efforts to end the four-year war and relieve civilians of poverty and hunger.

United Nations Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths arrives Sana'a to discuss with Houthis the implement of the peace agreement in Sana'a, Yemen, May 5, 2019.

Yemeni government representative Dweid said his side would hold the United Nations responsible for implementing the December pact "as agreed in terms of verification, monitoring, and the removal of mines, obstacles and military installations".

The head of the UN's Redeployment Coordination Committee called the pledge "the first practical step on the ground" since the conclusion of the Stockholm agreement.

Yemen's Houthi rebels announced a unilateral pullout from three key ports in Hodeidah on Saturday as part of a long stalled ceasefire agreement, but the move was quickly dismissed by the government as a sham meant to mislead the worldwide community.

The UN says the Huthi rebels announced late on May 10 that they would unilaterally redeploy their forces out of three Red Sea port facilities over four days beginning on May 11 - potentially opening the way for the delivery of humanitarian aid needed to prevent a starvation that threatens millions of people.

However, later on Saturday information minister Muammar al-Iryani for the Saudi-backed Yemeni government dismissed the pullout from Hodeida as a "show" meant to "disinform the global community".

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The withdrawal was a "show" meant to "disinform the global community", he added.

The UN-brokered deal is vague on who will control Hodeidah's ports after the sides withdraw, saying a "local force" would take over without specifying further.

A Sunni-Muslim coalition led by Saudi Arabia intervened in Yemen in March 2015, to push back against an advance by the rebels and restore power to President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

They are also expected to leave positions around the outskirts of Hodeida in the initial redeployment, before a second phase in which both sides pull back further. The group and Tehran deny the accusations.

The ports are used for grain, oil, commerce and aid, with Hodeidah handling 70 percent of the country's food imports and humanitarian relief.

Faltering UN peace efforts interspersed by outbreaks of fighting left hundreds dead before UN chief Antonio Guterres in December announced a series of breakthroughs in Yemen peace talks, including a ceasefire for Hodeida.

Western states, some of which supply arms and intelligence to the coalition, are pressing for an end to the conflict, seen in the region as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. On Saturday, the Houthis' Masirah TV channel said "enemy air bombing" killed six children and a woman, and injured 11 children and five women, in the southern province of al-Dhale.

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