News ID: 255837
Published: 0216 GMT July 15, 2019

Yemen sides meet on Hodeida for first time in months

Yemen sides meet on Hodeida for first time in months
AFP
Led by Danish General Michael Lollesgaard (C-L), the committee established under the Sweden agreement includes representatives from the United Nations, Houthis and the former government.

Representatives from Yemen's Houthis and the country’s former government met Sunday for the first time in five months to discuss redeployment of forces from the flashpoint port city of Hodeida.

The redeployment from Hodeida is a critical part of a cease-fire deal reached in December in Sweden that calls on both sides to move forces away from ports and parts of city, AFP reported.

"The joint meeting of the redeployment coordination (committee) meeting started earlier this afternoon," a UN official present at the meeting told AFP, adding it was set to continue Monday.

The last meeting was held on February 16 and 17, the source added.

The UN head of the committee confirmed the meeting "aboard a UN vessel on the high seas", adding it would center on "steps to implement" the Hodeida pullback plan.

Led by Danish General Michael Lollesgaard, the committee established under the Sweden agreement includes representatives from the United Nations, Houthis and the former government.

The pullback was supposed to have taken place two weeks after the cease-fire went into force on December 18, but that deadline was missed.

In May, the UN announced Houthis had withdrawn from Hodeida and two other nearby ports, the first practical step on the ground since the cease-fire deal.

But the former government accused the Houthi forces of faking the pullout, saying it had merely handed control to its allies.

Lollesgaard confirmed in June there had been no Houthi military presence in all three ports since their withdrawal a month before.

The UN is hoping that a de-escalation in Hodeida will allow desperately-needed food and medical aid to reach millions in need in Yemen.

The Red Sea port is the entry point for the bulk of imported goods and relief aid to Yemen, which the United Nations has described as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

According to a data unveiled in June by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), the conflict has almost 100,000 people since the Saudi-led military coalition waged a brutal war on Yemen since March 2015 in an attempt to reinstall the country's Riyadh-allied former government and crush the Houthis – objectives that have failed to materialize.

The fighting has also displaced millions and left 24.1 million – more than two-thirds of the population – in need of aid.

 

   
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