United Nation says rebel pullout from Yemen ports on track

Saul Bowman
Мая 14, 2019

The rebels, who have waged a yearslong insurgency against the internationally recognized Yemeni government, said Friday they would begin Saturday a four-day drawdown from three of the country's ports, including the Red Sea city of Hodeidah.

Hodeida is the main entry point for 70 per cent of imports and aid to Yemen, where the war has killed an estimated 60,000 people and pushed much of the country to the brink of starvation.

"The Houthis are staging a new ploy by handing over the ports of Hodeida, Saleef and Ras Issa to themselves without any monitoring by the United Nations and the government side", the government-appointed official said.

Sources close to the Huthis said the ports were handed over to coastguard personnel who were in charge before the rebels took over Hodeida nearly five years ago.

The gesture of goodwill by the Houthi rebels did not sit well with Yemen's Saudi-backed government.

The British ambassador to Yemen reacted sharply to the Yemeni government's scepticism about Houthi withdrawal.

"We welcome any serious step towards real implementation of the Stockholm Agreement, but such elusive attempts are unacceptable", the Yemeni minister added.

Yemeni Information Moammar Al Eryani on Saturday described the operation as an attempt to mislead the global community, which has been increasing pressure for an end to the war.

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There was no independent confirmation of a rebel withdrawal, and a United Nations observer mission in the city of Hodeida remained cautious in its initial assessment. The U.N. -brokered agreement is aimed at alleviating the world's worst humanitarian crisis. The Houthis handed over the ports to local coast guard forces in Hodeidah, and two smaller ports in the vicinity.

The UN said on Sunday that rebel forces had retreated from the port in the western city of Hodeidah.

A UN source told media on Saturday that the UN Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC) would announce its assessment of the Houthi redeployment next week.

The government forces, backed by the Saudi-led coalition, have advanced to the southern outskirts of the port city since June 2017, but the forces have halted a major offensive to recapture Hodeidah to pave the way for peace efforts.

Hopefully the United Nations sponsored plan is successful and the people of Yemen will be freed from not only the violent conflict they have endured for too many years, but also the effects of near-famine conditions and the country will be cleared of landmines.

Pro-government forces have twice tried to seize the port, and accuse the Houthis of using it to smuggle in weapons from Iran. Coalition forces, now massed four km from Hodeidah port on the edges of the city, are to retreat one km from two flashpoint districts.

The military coalition led by Riyadh intervened in March 2015 when President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi fled into exile in Saudi Arabia after the rebels captured swathes of the country.

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