0217 GMT February 23, 2020
The sides in Yemen’s nearly four-year war agreed during UN-sponsored peace talks in Sweden earlier this month to stop fighting in Hodeida city and its province and withdraw forces. The truce began on Tuesday but skirmishes continued on the outskirts of the city, Reuters reported.
On Friday the UN Security Council unanimously approved the deployment – for an initial 30 days – of an advance monitoring team led by retired Dutch General Patrick Cammaert.
Upon arriving at Aden airport, Cammaert met with officials from the Saudi-backed forces, local officials said, and he is expected to continue to Sana’a where he will meet Houthi officials.
He will then travel to Hodeida where he will oversee the truce and troop withdrawal from Hodeida city and three ports. Cammaert’s team will not be uniformed or armed, the UN said, but it will provide support for the management of and inspections at the ports of Hodeida, Salif and Ras Issa; and strengthen the UN presence in the war-torn region.
Houthis have welcomed the UN resolution authorizing the deployment of cease-fire monitors to the flashpoint port city of Hodeida, a major gateway for aid and food imports, calling it an "important step."
"This is an important step towards stopping the aggression and lifting the blockade," Houthis negotiator Mohammed Abdelsalam said late Friday.
Yemen's Saudi-backed ex-government also renewed its commitment to respect the hard-won truce accord reached at peace talks in Sweden.
Hodeida, the main port used to feed Yemen’s 30 million people, has been the focus of fighting this year, raising fears abroad that a full-scale assault could cut off supplies to nearly 16 million people suffering from severe hunger.
Sweden’s agreement, the first significant breakthrough in peace efforts in five years, is meant to pave the way for a wider cease-fire in the impoverished country and a second round of talks in January on a framework for political negotiations.
A Saudi-led coalition has been locked in the stalemated war since 2015 to undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement and reinstate former president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh.
The war has killed over 15,000 civilians and sparked a cholera epidemic and humanitarian crisis.